Medicare Advantage in the headlines: 8 recent updates

The National Committee for Quality Assurance has named the top Medicare Advantage plans of 2023, and new research is uncovering cost differences between MA and traditional Medicare. 

Here are eight updates about the program Becker's has covered since Sept. 13. 

  1. UnitedHealthcare is discontinuing some Medicare Advantage plans and exiting some service areas for 2024, while expanding its overall footprint.

  2. Medicare Advantage beneficiaries have 12 percent lower healthcare expenses than beneficiaries in fee-for-service Medicare, a whitepaper from researchers at Inovalon and Boston-based Harvard Medical School found. 

  3. More than 85 percent of the nearly 650,000 Medicare TV ad airings over a nine-week stretch during the 2023 open enrollment period were for Medicare Advantage, according to a report from KFF. Most ads were sponsored by health insurers, but about 20 percent were sponsored by brokers or other third-party entities, including marketing firms. Blue Cross Blue Shield plans accounted for around 1 in 4 MA TV advertisements in 2022. 

  4. How do the top-rated plans for Medicare Advantage member satisfaction keep members happy? Simplifying healthcare, going above and beyond in customer service and offering strong basic benefits, executives told Becker's. 

  5. Medicare Advantage beneficiaries with Alzheimer's disease and related dementia are 1.4 times more likely to switch to traditional Medicare than their counterparts without the disease, a study in JAMA Health Forum found. 

  6. A program designed to support socially-isolated Medicare Advantage members helped improve feelings of loneliness and depression, according to a report from the Elevance Health Public Policy Institute. 

  7. The National Committee for Quality Assurance named the best Medicare Advantage plans of 2023 based on factors that include care quality, patient satisfaction and efforts to keep improving. In total, 471 MA plans received a rating, which can range from zero to five stars. No MA plan received five stars this year. 

  8. CVS Health CEO Karen Lynch said she is "optimistic" Aetna will improve its Medicare Advantage star ratings for 2024. In a presentation to investors, Ms. Lynch said the company has put "every effort to execute and improve our overall star performance." 

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