HHS: Medicare Advantage enrollment will grow 11%

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is projecting that Medicare Advantage plans will add 14.5 million new members in 2013, an increase of 11 percent from this year. If that estimate proves true, then overall enrollment in private Medicare Advantage plans will have grown 28 percent since 2010, HHS announced Wednesday.

HHS also said that in the two years since the reform law was enacted, premiums have dropped 10 percent. Next year, the average premium is expected to increase only $1.47 to $32.59 a month, reported Kaiser Health News.

But the insurance industry remains concerned that the reform law, which taxes insurers and cuts their payments, will negatively impact Medicare Advantage benefits. What's more, some industry insiders worry that the Medicare Advantage program allows insurers to recruit members with taxpayer-subsidized rates and benefits that don't exist in the private market yet cost more than traditional Medicare, Reuters reported.

Deputy Medicare Administrator Jonathan Blum said the approach HHS is taking under the reform law is holding the line on costs while improving quality. "We are overseeing the program in a much stronger way," he said in a conference call with reporters, according to the Associated Press. "We are negotiating much more intensively. We have a very competitive marketplace. The combination of the competition we are fostering, the focus on quality, the focus on compliance ... that, to me, is what's producing these results."

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article
- check out Kaiser Health News article
- see the Associated Press article
- read the HHS statement

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