What 8 studies say about Medicare Advantage

Medicare Advantage differs from traditional Medicare in several aspects of care quality and cost, research published in the last year shows. 

Here are what eight studies have found about the differences between MA and fee-for-service Medicare, and how beneficiaries approach their coverage. 

Care quality

  1. Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are less likely to be hospitalized for ambulatory care-sensitive conditions than their counterparts in traditional Medicare, but this care is shifted to other settings, a study published in JAMA Health Forum found.

  2. Optum patients who are in a two-sided risk Medicare Advantage plan have better health outcomes than patients enrolled in traditional Medicare, according to a study published in JAMA Network Open.

  3. Medicare Advantage patients may receive higher-quality and more effective diabetes care compared to FFS enrollees, according to a study from Avalere Health and the Better Medicare Alliance, a pro-MA advocacy group.


  1. FFS Medicare members spend about 7 percent more on average for healthcare compared to Medicare Advantage members, according to a study published by AHIP, the trade association representing insurers. 
  1. Medicare Advantage enrollees were less likely to receive low-value care than their counterparts in traditional Medicare, a study published in JAMA Open Network found.

  2. Medicare beneficiaries who enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan may need less retirement savings to cover their healthcare costs, an analysis published by the Employee Benefits Research Institute found.

Enrollee behavior

  1. Around 16 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees switch insurance after one year of enrollment, and nearly half of Medicare Advantage enrollees switched insurers by their fifth year of enrollment, a study in the American Journal of Managed Care found. 

  2. Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare plans have similar rates of satisfaction with care and overall care coordination among beneficiaries, a review from Kaiser Family Foundation found. 

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