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The 2020 Medicare Advantage Plan Atlas, for Agents

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Medicare program managers at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have just flooded the CMS website with two giant, computer-crashing files of 2020 Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D plan data.

The files show how much each insurer’s plans will cost in each county, and they give some hints about what the benefits will be like.

(Related: 15 Big Cities’ Nursing Home Vacancy Rates)

The total number of plan entries has increased 18% this year, to about 58,000.

The database includes all sorts of specialized plans and subsidized plans that might not be the typical health insurance agent’s bread and butter. We filtered out a set of tens of thousands of ordinary Medicare Advantage plans that provide drug coverage.

The number of ordinary, general-purpose Medicare Advantage health maintenance organization (HMO), HMO point-of-service, preferred provider organization and private fee-for-service plans that offer drug benefits increased 17% this year, to more than 38,000.

We found that:

  • The annual 2020 average state cost index will range from a low of $390, for plans Florida, up to a high of $1,517, for plans in Minnesota.
  • The average is about $749, down 6.1% from the 2018 average for comparable plans.

We also looked at the columns of data that show how strong, or weak, the benefits will be.

For a look at the maps we created to go behind the national averages, see the map cards in the slideshow above. (Hover over the first slide with your mouse or touchpad pointer if the navigation arrows seem to have disappeared.)

How We Did This

To allow for apples-to-apples comparisons between the 2019 numbers and the 2020 numbers, we started by cutting out all of the Medicare Advantage plan entries for older types of plans and niche plans, such as special needs plans.

Our comparisons include only Medicare Advantage plans that provide drug coverage. We kept Medicare Advantage private fee-for-service plans, point-of-service plans, and prefered organization plans in the calculations.

To compensate for the problem that a plan might keep its monthly out-of-pocket costs for the enrollee low by making the deductibles high, we came up with our own, homegrown plan cost index.

The cost index equals 12 months of a Medicare Advantage plan’s health coverage and drug coverage, premiums, plus the plan’s annual deductible.


The CMS 2020 Medicare Advantage plan files and other plan files are available here.

— Read Uninsured Rate Fell in Most Counties in 2016: Census Bureau, on ThinkAdvisor.

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