Increasingly, Medicare Advantage plans are serving more Medicare beneficiaries than ever. More than 22 million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2019, a full 34% of those eligible for the health insurance program. This report offers a brief overview of the Medicare Advantage program for plan year 2020, based on MedicareWire’s analysis of the Landscape Source Files from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Number of Plans Available
Nationwide, there are 3,148 private health plans available under the Medicare Advantage program. This represents an increase of 414 plans over plan year 2019, marking three straight years of steady growth.
On average, beneficiaries can choose from a pool of 28 plans in their area in 2020, up from 24 in 2019. For those who qualify, the availability of Special Needs Plans (SNPs) increased to 855 plans in 2020, up from 717 in 2019.
Number of Insurance Carriers
On average Medicare beneficiaries will be able to choose from plans seven health insurance carriers in 2020. However, a small number of all beneficiaries – about 4% – will have just one or two carriers to choose from, while nearly a quarter of all beneficiaries will be able to choose from plans offered by 10 or more carriers. Thirteen new insurers entered the 2020 Medicare Advantage market.
Urban and Rural Plan Disparity
The disparity in the number of Medicare Advantage plans in urban vs. rural areas continues. In 2020, counties with large urban populations have an average of 31 plans available, whereas rural counties average only 16 plan options. No plans will be offered in 77 counties in 2020, including the entire state of Alaska.
Carriers, both large and small, expanded their offerings into new markets. Cigna, for example, expanded its Medicare Advantage health plan offerings in dozens of new counties. The carrier is quickly becoming a competitive business for Medicare Advantage leaders, United Healthcare and Humana.
UnitedHealthcare (UHC), which runs the nation’s largest Medicare Advantage network, served nearly 6-million people with its 2019 Medicare Advantage plans. For 2020, UHC is offering more than 100 new plans as it expands its offerings in 100 new counties. In 2020, 90% of people eligible for Medicare will have a choice of UHC Medicare Advantage plans. The health insurance giant will also make virtual visits available on most of its plans, giving beneficiaries access to care providers through a smartphone or computer for minor health issues, often at no cost.
For 2020, Humana has expanded its HMO plan offerings into 160 new counties and introduced PPO plans in 172 new counties. Humana’s 2020 Medicare Advantage plans include:
- Dental, hearing and vision coverage, fitness program memberships, home-delivered meals following an inpatient hospital stay, and an allowance for over-the-counter personal care items, at no additional cost, with most Humana Medicare Advantage plans;
- Home support and resources for caregivers, rides to medical appointments and the gym, and acupuncture with select Humana Medicare Advantage plans;
- A new Medicare Advantage plan, called Humana Honor, that’s designed with U.S. military veterans in mind.
- Expanded Special Needs Plans (SNP) for Dual-Eligible (Medicare/Medicaid) members with nearly 100 such plans across 28 states offered for 2020.
Top 50 Counties with the Most Medicare Advantage Plans
The following table shows the top fifty U.S. counties with the most Medicare Advantage plan options. Ohio and Pennsylvania are the clear winners attracting the most plans for their beneficiaries, with 21 and 16 counties in the top 50, respectively.
Top 50 Counties with the Fewest Medicare Advantage Plan Choices
Although there are 77 U.S. counties that have no Medicare Advantage plan options, there are 59 counties with only one option. The good news here is that most of these counties have an MA plan option for the first time due to Lasso Healthcare expanding its Medical Savings Account option into these areas.