How restrictive are Medicare Advantage plans?

Now that 51% of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA), one key question is how restrictive are MA narrow networks? While beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare fee-for-service can choose any provider, MA plans can impose restrictions on enrollee’s provider choices. Measuring how restrictive an MA plan is, however, is difficult because “restrictiveness” is a…

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…

Medicare Advantage is taking over

Via the Kaiser Family Foundation: In 2023, more than half (51%) of eligible Medicare beneficiaries – 30.8 million people out of 60.0 million Medicare beneficiaries with both Medicare Parts A and B – are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage enrollment as a share of the eligible Medicare population has jumped from 19% in…

Are Integrated Medicare Advantage Plans better?

That is the question Park, Langellier, and Meyers (2022) aim to estimate in their recent Health Services Research publication. The authors use 2015-2017 data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services and control for other differences between integrated and non-integrated Medicare Advantage (MA) plans using state fixed effects and contract random effects. Using this…

Medicare Advantage and Lake Wobegon

That is the connection made between Medicare Advantage (MA) Star Ratings under the Quality Bonus Program (QBP) and Garrison Keillor well-known segment on the Prairie Home Companion in a recent paper by Teno and Ankuda (2022). To better understand this linkage, first recall the famous quote from Mr. Keillor: That’s the news from Lake Wobegon,…

Part D Fun Facts

Some fun facts from Kaiser Family Foundation about Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs. Enrollment has doubled since Part D’s inception in 2019. Enrollment in managed care drug plans (i.e., Medicare Advantage Part D Plans [MA-PD]) has continued to grow, but enrollment in stand alone Part D Plans [PDP] has leveled off or decreased.…

Medicare, adverse selection and cancer

Conventional wisdom holds that Medicare Advantage provides better service and lower cost sharing than traditional Medicare fee-for-service, and thus is attractive for many people.  However, Medicare Advantage may restrict access to providers and may be less attractive to patients with more severe illnesses.  Healthcare economists, however, do not rely on rumors and stories to make…