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Medicare Advantage Enrollment Keeps Growing: Mark Farrah

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The Medicare Advantage program may be the only U.S. health plan program administered directly by private insurers that had enrollment growth over 1% in 2018.

Analysts at Mark Farrah Associates report, in a new review of health insurance enrollment data, that health insurers were providing or administering health coverage for 265 million of the 327 million U.S. residents in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The number of people with some kind of privately insured or directly administered coverage was down 0.16% from the total for the fourth quarter of 2017.

(Related: Individual Major Medical Use Dropped 10% in 2017: Mark Farrah)

Private companies do administer the traditional Medicare Part A hospitalization and Medicare Part B outpatient and physician services for the federal government, and private companies also help with administration of many states’ state-run Medicaid programs.

But, in the private health insurance data, the Mark Farrah Associates analysts include only data for commercial health insurance, managed care coverage, self-insured employer health plans, Medicaid plans classified as managed Medicaid plans, and Medicare Advantage plans.

Here’s what happened to enrollment for the types of coverage the firm tracks between the end of 2017 and the end of 2018:

  • Medicare Advantage: Up 3.6%
  • Self-Funded Employer Health Plans: Up 0.7%
  • Managed Medicaid: Down 0.1%
  • Fully Insured Employer Health Plans: Down 1.5%
  • Individual Major Medical: Down 6.7%

Mark Farrah Associates reported a 10% drop in individual major medical use between 2017 and 2018. Individual enrollment has fallen every year since 2015.

Individual major medical enrollment stood at 14.5 million at the end of 2018, down from 17.9 million people at the end of 2015.


A copy of the latest Mark Farrah Associates health coverage enrollment data is available here.

— Read U.S. Health Insurers Are Doing All Right: Mark Farrahon ThinkAdvisor.

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