Big Cuts to Medicare Advantage Won’t Come in an Election Year.
by Denise Early on Mar. 24, 2010, under Health
Medicare Advantage plans will not face big payment cuts until 2012. Under the health care reform bill, Advantage plans will get the same payments in 2011 as they receive in 2010. So November 2010 should not see big changes to Medicare Advantage plans such as large increases in premiums and co-pays, or wide-spread plan cancellations. That is more likely to happen in November 2011 when 2012 plan details are released.
Delaying major cuts until after the mid-term elections in November this year seems like a wise decision for Democrats. People enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans receive their Annual Notice of Change in late-October, and I had envisioned 11 million seniors getting news this October that “their” Medicare would change - a lot. But it looks like that will happen in October 2011, a non-election year.
Medicare Advantage enrollment is still growing: From what I’ve read on the Kaiser Family Foundation web site, Medicare Advantage enrollment increased by 5.5% in 2009 across the country. Nearly 11.5 million people are now enrolled in Advantage plans nationwide, with most of them in HMO network plans. This means that nearly 25% of seniors are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, though states like California, Florida and Arizona have more than 30% enrollment levels.
Private-Fee-For-Service plan enrollment dropped 28% in 2009 because of plan cancellations and large premium increases. These plans just don’t make sense anymore, and most will be cancelled in 2011.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation web site, Medicare Advantage enrollment increased in Arizona by about 13,000 in 2009. Of the 280,000 Arizonans in Medicare Advantage plans, about 90% are in HMO plans (Health Maintenance Organization networks). Local HMO’s are likely to be the only financially feasible plans going forward, given the planned payment changes to the insurance companies that run them.
The big news is that there shouldn’t be big shocks for Medicare Advantage enrollees in November of this year. And Democrats running for office won’t face the wrath of 11 million seniors – this election year.