Medicare Advantage enrollment continues its steady growth

Medicare Advantage enrollment continued its steady climb in 2016, with 17.6 million people accounting for nearly one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries, according to analysis released by the Kaiser Family Foundation.  

Enrollment in MA plans has surged over the last five years even despite funding cuts that some predicted would cripple the program. MA enrollment has more than doubled over the last decade, according to data compiled by KFF, and in five states, MA beneficiaries make up at least 40 percent of Medicare plans.

Enrollees are also gravitating toward higher quality plans. The number of enrollees in plans with 4 or more stars jumped from 37 percent in 2013 to 68 percent in 2016.

Nearly three-quarters of MA plans are dispersed among the country's largest insurers: UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield (excluding Anthem), Cigna and Kaiser Permanente. UnitedHealthcare holds the largest market share, accounting for 21 percent of all MA plan, but Aetna's share would jump to 25 percent if its merge with Humana is approved. Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini has indicated that Humana's MA market share was and "especially compelling" aspect of the proposed merger.  

Previous reports have raised concerns about competition within MA markets, particularly as the Department of Justice reviews two deals that would consolidate four major insurers. 

To learn more:
- read the KFF report