Medicare Advantage plans now serve over 27 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s annual update on the Medicare Part C program. In 2012, Medicare Advantage plans serve 13.1 million beneficiaries, a jump of over one million – 10 percent – compared to last year.

Medicare Advantage Plan Enrollment in 2012:

Here are some highlights on Medicare Advantage plan enrollment in 2012:

  • Total Medicare Advantage enrollment has doubled since 2005 reaching 13.1 million this year.
  • Most of the Medicare Advantage population consists of individual beneficiaries, while 18 percent are enrolled through group plans – primarily employer-sponsored.
  • 87 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees are in urban counties, with enrollment gains comparable in both urban and rural counties.
  • 65 percent of enrollees are in health maintenance organizations (HMOs), a share consistent with prior years, though enrollment in local preferred provider prganizations (PPOs) “appears to be on the rise.”
  • For the first time, the proportion of rural Medicare Advantage enrollees in local PPOs (32%) is about equal to that of  HMOs  (31%).
  • About two-thirds of nationwide Medicare Advantage enrollment is concentrated in major players in the Medicare health plan business, most notably: United Healthcare, Humana, independent Blue Cross Blue Shield affiliates, Kaiser Permanente, WellPoint, Cigna, and Aetna.

These increases in enrollment were in spite of concerns that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health reform law would damage Medicare Advantage by reducing payments to participating health plans, the report’s authors note. “With more than one in four beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare  Advantage  plan, and with numerous firms relying on Medicare Advantage for revenue, policymakers may be pressured to limit or slow the speed of payment cuts plans to avoid disruptions in certain markets.”

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