2015 Medicare Advantage Enrollment

About two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaires are enrolled in tradiational Medicare FFS, but the remaining thrid is now enrollingin Medicare Advantage plans.  Which plans are dominant? The following figure from Avalere provides a breakdown. Note that this figure obscures significant regional variation in plan market share. For instance, Kaiser Permanente has almost half (48%) of the…

Medicare Advantage vs. FFS

Austin Frakt summarizes some recent research presented at AcademyHealth. There are three principle MA plan types: HMOs, PPOs, and private fee for service (PFFS) plans. It’s HMOs that are lowest in cost, because they tend to offer the most restrictive networks. As Biles et al. report, based on 2012 data, HMOs have costs 7 percent…

Medicare Advantage Plans: Thumbs Up or Down?

Austin Frakt says although Medicare Advantage plans used to be considered high cost, low-quality options, in recent years, these Medicare Advantage plans have vastly increased quality of care and have become less focused on cream-skimming healthier patients.   Medicare Advantage plans — private plans that serve as alternatives to the traditional, public program for those…

Measuring Patient Case Mix in Medicare

How does Medicare measure patient case mix?  For the most part, Medicare uses the Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) model.  A recent CMS presentation describes the HCC model in more detail.  Today I review where CMS applies the HCC model, provide an overview of the HCC methodology, briefly describe its performance, and give some background on…

Bring Market Prices to Medicare

Medicare is a government-run insurance program.  Can policy changes be made to add competition to Medicare, maintain quality and reduce cost?  A book titled Bring Market Prices to Medicare argues that it can through a competitive bidding process. This book makes a number of sensible arguments which I review today. The main proposal of the…

Does California really love Managed Care?

In short, yes. California is the land of managed care. Kaiser-Permanente–the managed care poster child–owns one third of the market.  Love for managed care is not just in the private market; in 2010, over half of all Medi-Cal and more than one-third of Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in managed care plans.  Further, California managed care…