Medicare Advantage poised for strong membership growth

Medicare Advantage enrollment might increase by as much as 50 percent in the next 10 years, according to the latest budget analysis.

The Congressional Budget Office said in its annual review of the federal budget that Medicare Advantage plans could have a total of 21 million members by 2023, up from 14 million this year, reported Bloomberg. Plus, the CBO estimated that the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services will pay Medicare Advantage insurers $250 billion in 2023, rising from $145 billion projected for this year.

This increase is a glimmer of hope amid the CBO's forecast that insurers would be competing for 2 million fewer consumers after the reform law is implemented in 2014.

Although the CBO previously predicted that Medicare Advantage enrollment would drop to 11 million people, it didn't explain why it revised the estimate. The change might be a result of HHS's reversing its proposed 2.2 percent payment cuts to a 3.3 percent increase next year.

But the turnaround also could mean the recent downturn in healthcare growth may be permanent. "CBO really seems to have accepted hook, line and sinker that we've seen a shift down in that spending curve in general," Joseph Antos, a health economist at the American Enterprise Institute, told Bloomberg.

To learn more:
- here's the CBO budget review
- read the Bloomberg article

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