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Life Health > Health Insurance > Medicare Planning

Medicare Advantage plan count rises

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Health insurers will be offering more Medicare Advantage plans in 2016, and a few more zero-premium plans, but budget pressure may show up in enrollees’ out-of-pocket costs.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted the final 2016 private Medicare plan summary information for 2016 in big, compressed data files.

The files list the Medicare Advantage plans, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, Medicare Special Needs Plans (SNPs) and Medicare-Medicaid Plans insurers will offer to Medicare plan enrollees during the 2016 open enrollment period, which is set to start Oct. 15 and end Dec. 7.

See also: 5 things you have to know about 2015 private Medicare plans

The files do not list Medicare supplement insurance plans.

The Medicare Advantage program gives insurers a chance to sell plans that serve as an alternative for traditional Medicare coverage.

CMS officials say 95 percent of Medicare enrollees will have access to a Medicare Advantage plan with a monthly premium of $0.

A LifeHealthPro analysis of the data files suggests that the total number of ordinary Medicare Advantage plans, excluding SNPs and other specialized types of plans, will increase 4 percent between 2015 and 2016 to 34,930.

The number of zero-premium plans will increase 2 percent to 9,751, and the number of plans with a monthly premium of $100 or less will increase 2.9 percent to 27,238.

The Medicare Advantage program has served as a model for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange plan program, and some say PPACA has encouraged insurers to hold monthly premiums down by increasing enrollees’ deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.

An analysis of the Medicare Advantage program suggests pressure to keep premiums low may also be affecting out-of-pocket costs in that market.

In the ordinary Medicare Advantage plan, the number of zero-premium plans with an annual out-of-pocket cost maximum of $3,000 or less will fall 18 percent, to 299.

The number of zero-premium plans with an annual out-of-pocket maximum of $4,000 or less will fall 37 percent to 2,217.


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