Hospitals Medicaid/Medicare Medicare Advantage Supply of Medical Services

Patients love Medicare Advantage, but do providers?

Just this year a majority of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. While these plans are popular with patients, I recently wrote that some rural providers are refusing to accept Medicare Advantage due to low reimbursement. A recent article from Kaiser Health News finds that provider frustration with Medicare Advantage is spreading to urban areas as well, such as San Diego and Louisville.

…more than 30,000 San Diego-area residents are looking for new doctors after two large medical groups affiliated with Scripps Health said they would no longer contract with Medicare Advantage insurers.
“The insurance companies running the Medicare Advantage plans are pushing physicians and hospitals to the edge,” said Chip Kahn, president and CEO of the Federation of American Hospitals, which represents the for-profit hospital sector…

Baptist Health in Louisville, Kentucky, said in a statement that all nine of its hospitals, along with its clinics and physician groups, would cut ties with Advantage plans offered by UnitedHealthcare and Wellcare Health Plans Inc. beginning in January unless they reach an agreement.
“Many Medicare Advantage plans routinely deny or delay approval or payment for medical care recommended by a patient’s physician,” Baptist Health said in its statement.
The system’s medical group, with nearly 1,500 physicians and other providers, left Humana’s network in September.

A key question is whether provider threats to abandon Medicare Advantage plans is a negotiating tactic or if they will follow-through with the threat. While many patients have a choice of a large number of plans, in practice, UnitedHealthcare and Humana account for about 50% of the national enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans.