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Strong Growth From April to May In Medicare Advantage

I decided to continue my Medicare Advantage (MA) monthly enrollment blogs because of continuing strong month-over-month increases.  While we are outside of the two regular annual enrollment windows, increases in MA are still strong given the aging of America and the ability of some populations, such as dual eligibles, to continue to make changes throughout the year. As I have reported, growth from January 2023 to January 2024 was a robust 8.7% increase or 2.674 million.  Enrollment in MA reached 30.799 million in January.  Since that time, enrollment has continued to climb: Enrollment in MA has now hit 33.985 million. The growth from January 1 to May 1 represents an additional 1.53% increase or 512,000 lives. MA enrollment has now increased beyond 51% of all Medicare beneficiaries. As we saw with January 2023 to January 2024, PPO growth now significantly outstrips HMO growth. From January 1 to May 1, HMOs

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MA Plans Should Ready For Changes To Risk Adjustment Submissions?

Provider groups, anti-Medicare Advantage (MA) advocates and researchers, and even the congressional policy arm MedPAC are busy attacking MA for supposedly being over-reimbursed. Depending on the study you find, these folks will tell you that MA is over-reimbursed by as much as $88 billion annually. Of course, many of these calculations are speculative and throw in policy decisions by Congress to make Stars funding additive as well as to pay some areas of the country more than the fee-for-service (FFS) rate to promote more benefit choice in rural areas. They argue that risk adjustment coding is out of control and that MA has beneficial selection compared with the traditional program. I have told you often in these pages that I come somewhere up the middle here. I discount the critics’ views and analyses. It is strange that critics’ overpayment estimates jumped from under $20 billion for so many years to

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Health Plan Economics Part 4: Other Healthcare Trends And Their Economic Impacts On Plans

This blog is the last of a four-part series on Health Plan Economics. In this series, I plan on simply laying out some important trends in different lines of business and some of the impacts from a healthcare economics standpoint. Here is my plan, subject to change of course based on breaking news: April 25 – Medicare Advantage and Rumors Of Humana’s acquisition by Cigna April 29 – How The Lapse Of Premium Subsidies Could Hurt The Exchanges’ Relatively Stable Finances May 2 – How Falling Medicaid Enrollment is Impacting Health Plans and Providers Alike May 6 – Other Healthcare Trends And Their Economic Impacts On Plans — Part 4 – Other Healthcare Trends And Their Economic Impacts On Plans We are at the end of our four-part series on health plan economics. This last installment is on some healthcare trends we see in the marketplace and how that impacts

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Health Plan Economics Part 3:  How Falling Medicaid Enrollment is Impacting Health Plans and Providers Alike

This blog is part of a four-part series on Health Plan Economics. In this series, I plan on simply laying out some important trends in different lines of business and some of the impacts from a healthcare economics standpoint. Here is my plan, subject to change of course based on breaking news: April 25 – Medicare Advantage and Rumors Of Humana’s acquisition by Cigna April 29 – How The Lapse Of Premium Subsidies Could Hurt The Exchanges’ Relatively Stable Finances May 2 – How Falling Medicaid Enrollment is Impacting Health Plans and Providers Alike May 6 – Other Healthcare Trends And Their Economic Impacts On Plans — Part 3 – How Falling Medicaid Enrollment is Impacting Health Plans and Providers Alike Now that we have covered Medicare Advantage and the Exchanges, let’s move this week to what is happening in Medicaid managed care. Note that I base many of my

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Health Plan Economics Part 2:  How The Lapse Of Premium Subsidies Could Hurt The Exchanges’ Relatively Stable Finances

This blog is part of a four-part series on Health Plan Economics. In this series I plan on simply laying out some important trends in different lines of business and some of the impacts from a healthcare economics standpoint. Here is my plan, subject to change of course based on breaking news: April 25 – Medicare Advantage and Rumors Of Humana’s acquisition by Cigna April 29 – How The Lapse Of Premium Subsidies Could Hurt The Exchanges’ Relatively Stable Finances May 2 – How Falling Medicaid Enrollment is Impacting Health Plans and Providers Alike May 6 – Other Healthcare Trends And Their Economic Impacts On Plans — Part 2 – How The Lapse Of Premium Subsidies Could Hurt The Exchange’s Relatively Stable Finances I hope you are enjoying this blog series on health plan economics. Last week we covered some economics in the news right now for Medicare Advantage. This

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Health Plan Economics Part 1:  Medicare Advantage And New Rumors Of A Cigna-Humana Combination

This blog starts a four-part series on Health Plan Economics. In this series I plan on simply laying out some important trends in different lines of business and some of the impacts from a healthcare economics standpoint. Here is my plan, subject to change of course based on breaking news: April 25 – Medicare Advantage and Rumors Of Humana’s acquisition by Cigna April 29 – How The Lapse Of Premium Subsidies Could Hurt The Exchange’s Relatively Stable Finances May 2 – How Falling Medicaid Enrollment is Impacting Health Plans and Providers Alike May 6 – Other Healthcare Trends And Their Economic Impacts On Plans — Part 1 – Medicare Advantage and New Rumors of Cigna-Humana Combination I had not thought much about the failed Cigna-Humana combination since it fell apart late last year. But I was intrigued by Jeffries analyst who just reported that the math now may work again

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Major Medicaid Managed Care Changes Follow Medicare Ones

Following major changes in Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a number of rules impacting Medicaid, but specificially managed care. With the vast majoirty of Medicaid beneficiaries in managed care, CMS is targeting numerous prorgams to the managed care programs in states.  What are the major changes impacting Medicaid managed care? Waiting times/access Rates, spending, and transparency Quality and satisfaction Nursing homes The Biden administration finalized numerous changes impacting nursing homes, including minimum staffing requirements and directing that 80% of all payments from Medicaid (over a six-year period and with some flexibility) go to wages for aides and nurses.  The problem with the rule is that rates just are not sufficient enough to meet these requirements and proposals Biden has made. Proposals to increase dollars have not yet passed.  The fear is that the moves in each case could force many

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Strong Growth As Major Enrollment Season Continued In Medicare Advantage

I have posted several blogs now on the exciting news that Medicare Advantage (MA) growth has been very robust not only in the traditional enrollment period from October 15 to December 2023, but also in the supplemental period from January 1 to March 31, 2024. Growth will continue throughout the year (due to aging primarily), but we should begin to see some slowing perhaps after the May numbers. So what have we seen.  As I have reported, growth from January 2023 to January 2024 was a robust 8.7% increase or 2.674 million.  Enrollment in MA reached 30.799 million in January.  Since that time, enrollment has continued to climb: The growth from January 1 to April 1 represents an additional 1.2% increase or 413,000 lives. MA enrollment has now increased beyond 51% of all Medicare beneficiaries. As we saw with January 2023 to January 2024, PPO growth now significantly outstrips HMO

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Major Changes Occurring in Medicare Part D

As a result of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), major changes are occurring in the Medicare Part D retail drug program.  Here is my best effort to explain the changes.  Phases of the program  It is first important to understand the four phases of the program.  Figures change from year to year with inflation so I am outlining the 2024 phases here. Deductible Phase: Here, the Part D member is required to cover all costs of his or her drugs up to the deductible amount.  In 2024, the deductible amount is set at $545.  But remember that both standalone Part D plans (PDPs, who enroll beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage (MA) Part C Only plans or traditional Medicare fee-for-service (FFS)) and MA-Part D plans can lower the deductible in their benefit design.  Some even eliminate it for some or all drugs. Initial Coverage Phase:  Here, costs are split between the plan

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Out-Of-Network Provider Billing Is Yet Another Provider Attack Issue Against Plans

The health plan industry has been in turmoil since an April 7, 2024 New York Times article appeared attacking prominent insurers and a data technology vendor, MultiPlan, for seemingly transferring huge out-of-network bills to commercial product patients.  Insurers are already battling major headwinds related to two other issues: So, is the MultiPlan issue yet another front on which health plans may have to fight? The public relations on the article alone has raised lawmakers’ eyebrows. The American Hospital Association has asked the federal Department of Labor to investigate both MultiPlan and large insurers to determine whether they engage in business practices that disadvantage patients and providers under the self-insured ERISA law and regulations. So what does MultiPlan do on behalf of health plans While the data and technology firm has networks and negotiation services, more and more MultiPlan is hired by insurers to scrutinize claims coming in from out-of-network providers

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