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Medicare Advantage Plan Count Rises 10%

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services may be having problems with its Affordable Care Act program, but its Medicare Advantage program looks good.

Managers of the Medicare program are preparing to start the first Medicare Advantage and Medicare Plan D prescription drug plan annual enrollment period under President Donald Trump on Oct. 15. The enrollment period is set to end Dec. 7.

(Related: 2017 Medicare Advantage Hole Rankings)

Health insurers, health maintenance organizations and other carriers are feeding county-by-county plan data into CMS computers. CMS recently posted a copy of the county-by-county data file here.

A comparison of the file for 2018 with a similar file for 2017 shows that:

  • The total number of plans will increase 10% next year, to 38,110.

  • The number of plans with no monthly out-of-pocket premium payments for the enrollees increased to 11,933 for 2018, up 22% from the 2017 zero-premium plan count. 

  • The cost of the median 2018 plan is $43 per month. That’s for a local preferred provider organization plan in Jefferson County, West Virginia, with a $6,700 annual out-of-pocket maximum.

  • The cost of the median 2017 plan was $47 per month, for a local PPO plan in Davidson County, North Carolina, with a $4,500 annual out-pocket maximum.

CMS expects enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans to increase 9% in 2018, to 20 million.

The Medicare Advantage program gives private insurers the ability to offer what amounts to an alternative to traditional Medicare coverage. 

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