What You Need to Know
- In the fourth quarter of 2021, both revenue and net income were up.
- The enrollees who come in through the ACA public exchange system stay enrolled longer these days.
- Hospitalization related to the COVID-19 pandemic may be running a little higher than it was a year ago.
Executives at Anthem say the Medicare Advantage market looks great to them.
Humana suggested earlier this month that, in the communities it serves, concern about aggressive price competition had caused it to let Medicare Advantage plan enrollment growth slow.
But executives from UnitedHealth said, when that company posted its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2021, that the level of competition seemed to be about the same as it’s been for the past few years.
Gail Boudreaux, Anthem’s CEO, gave a similar assessment today, when Anthem released its fourth-quarter results.
Anthem generated $139 billion in revenue in 2021 and pays for health care for more than 1 in 8 U.S. residents. But it took a cautious approach to entering the Medicare Advantage market and how has just a 7% share there.
The Medicare Advantage annual enrollment period, or AEP, for 2022 coverage ran from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7.
“We felt we had a very strong AEP,” Boudreaux said. “We’re expecting double-digit growth … I think there was a very consistent competitive environment.”
Boudreaux also talked about “churn,” or movements of enrollees from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
“We’re not seeing anything significantly different than we’ve seen in the past,” Boudreaux said. “It’s been a competitive market. It remains a competitive market.”
Boudreaux talked about the Medicare Advantage market during a conference call Anthem held to discuss its fourth-quarter results with securities analysts.
Anthem said ended the year with about 30% more Medicare Advantage plan enrollees than it had at the end of 2020.
What That Means for Agents
The Medicare Advantage plan market gives insurers and managed care companies a chance to offer plans that look to the enrollees like alternatives to the traditional Medicare program. The plans now cover about 29 million of the 64 million people who have Medicare coverage.
Consistent growth in Medicare Advantage plan sales in recent years has made that market look like a haven from the effects of political battles on the Affordable Care Act public exchange plan market and the effects of low interest rates and accounting rule changes on the life insurance and annuity markets.