Medicare Advantage plans yield early success

The Medicare Advantage pay-for-performance program is already producing quality improvements in its early stages, according to a new study from the National Committee for Quality Assurance.

From 2010 to 2011, Medicare Advantage plans reported improvements on such measures as controlling blood pressure, increasing colorectal cancer screening, assessing Body Mass Index, avoiding use of high-risk medications and improving beta-blocker therapy after heart attacks, according to a blog post on Health Affairs.

Dovetailing this study's findings is the fact that the whole Medicare Advantage program is expanding, as several private insurers said they will beef up their plans. Cigna's HealthSpring, for example, is broadening its Medicare Advantage products to 37 new counties, many of which are in Tennessee, AIS Health reported.

WellPoint said it will expand its Medicare Advantage offerings to 46 new counties in eight states for 2013. Thirteen of those counties are in Maine, three in New Hampshire, another 13 in Georgia, nine in Wisconsin, three in Missouri, two each in California and Colorado, and one in Virginia. Plus, WellPoint will provide new Medicare Advantage products to many counties it already serves, including offering access to CareMore on the East Coast.

In addition, Humana is widening its Medicare Advantage reach to 31 new markets, although the insurer didn't specify the markets or products, AIS Health noted.

To learn more:
- here's the NCQA study
- read the Health Affairs blog post
- see the AIS Health article