MA Enrollment Will Climb by 11% in 2013, CMS Projections Show
In 2013, enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans is projected to increase by 11%, while premiums are expected to hold steady, according to new projections announced by CMS on Wednesday, Reuters reports (Morgan, Reuters, 9/19).
Between 2010 and 2013, MA enrollment will have increased by 28%, while premiums will have declined by 10%, according to the projections (Norman, Politico, 9/20).
In a statement, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attributed the updated figures to the Affordable Care Act, which she said has "strengthened" the MA program, as well as the Medicare prescription drug benefit program (UPI, 9/20).
During a media conference call to discuss the figures, CMS Center for Medicare Director Jon Blum noted that the Congressional Budget Office had predicted that MA enrollment would decline because of reductions in payments under the ACA, adding, "Those projections haven't been true." He said continued interest from insurers to participate in the MA program indicates that the program will remain strong (Politico, 9/20).
CMS also estimated that 14.5 million will enroll in an MA plan next year, up from 13.1 million this year. The total percentage of beneficiaries in an MA plan would rise to 28% next year, from 25% this year (Reuters, 9/19).
Further, the average MA premium in 2013 is expected to increase by just $1.47 to $32.59, CMS projected (UPI, 9/20). The number of MA plans that will be available to beneficiaries is expected to increase by 7% next year, the agency said (Politico, 9/20).
According to The Hill's "Healthwatch," the new projections are similar to data in a June Kaiser Family Foundation report showing a 10% increase in MA enrollment this year and a $4 drop in average premiums (Viebeck, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 9/19).
House Republicans To Air Concerns About MA Plans
The latest projections came just two days before House Republicans are scheduled to argue that payment cuts under the ACA will force many insurers out of the MA program and leave beneficiaries with additional costs, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports.
The House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee is scheduled to hold a hearing on MA plans on Friday.In a statement announcing the hearing released last week, Subcommittee Chair Rep. Wally Herger (R-Calif.) said he is concerned that the health reform law will "significantly alter the program and jeopardize seniors' access to the health plans they rely on" (Carey, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 9/19). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.