Most growth in Medicare Advantage enrollment since 2006 was driven by people switching from fee-for-service Medicare to the program, a study by HHS researchers published in the September issue of Health Affairs found.
The study examined Medicare enrollment from 2006 to 2022. The researchers found rates of switching between fee-for-service Medicare and MA were similar until 2010, when more beneficiaries began to switch from fee-for-service to MA every year than the reverse. This trend began to accelerate substantially in 2017, the researchers wrote.
In 2021, 7.8 percent of people enrolled in traditional Medicare switched to Medicare Advantage, compared to 1.2 percent of MA enrollees switching to traditional Medicare.
The study also examined the characteristics of beneficiaries who switched their Medicare enrollment. Women were more likely to switch from fee-for-service Medicare to MA than men. Hispanic beneficiaries were most likely of all racial and ethnic groups to switch from traditional Medicare to MA, and Black and Asian beneficiaries had higher odds of switching in both directions than white beneficiaries. American Indian or Alaska Native beneficiaries were more likely to switch from MA to fee-for-service than white beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries with fewer chronic conditions were more likely to switch to MA, and much less likely to switch to fee-for-service, the study found.
"We found that switching from fee-for-service Medicare into MA, particularly by younger and healthier beneficiaries, has driven the increased share of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in MA and has been accelerating since 2019. Future research can further explore the motivations and experiences for those enrollment changes," the study's authors concluded.
Read the full study here.