HHS on Medicare Advantage: Enrollment high, premiums low

Friday, September 20, 2013

WASHINGTON – Enrollment in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans is expected to increase for the fourth year in a row in 2014, with only slight increases in premiums expected.

Premiums are expected to be, on average, $1.64 more, or $32.60, according to a Sept. 19 press release from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“As a result of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans remain strong and continue to provide improved benefits and low premiums for beneficiaries,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in the release.

HHS noted that the average MA premium is down 9.8% since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010, with spending per Medicare beneficiary growing only 1.7% annually between 2010 and 2012.

Helping to increase enrollment in MA: The majority of beneficiaries (99.1%) have access to these higher-quality plans, according to HHS. The department expects the average number of plan choices will remain about the same in 2014 and access to supplemental benefits will remain stable.

MA plans are also improving in quality, increasing their attractiveness to beneficiaries, HHS noted. More than one-third of all MA contracts will receive a rating of four or five stars next year, an increase of 28% from 2013, the department said.