The total national number of Medicare Advantage plan members grew by 10% in 2012 to more than 13 million enrollees.

The total national number of Medicare Advantage plan members grew by 10% in 2012 to more than 13 million enrollees. This is about double the number of people that were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2005 before Medicare Part D was added as a benefit in 2006. The majority of members are enrolled in HMO plans, but the percentage of those enrolled in PPO plans is increasing.

In California, there are now over 1.8 million Medicare Advantage HMO members compared to just 61,000 members enrolled in Medicare Advantage PPO plans. All totaled, about 36% of the Medicare eligible population is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage. The top 3 carriers hold 70% of all members. Kaiser Foundation Health Plans has 46% of all members, followed by United HealthCare with 18%, and Health Net of California with 8%.

Medicare beneficiaries are attracted to Medicare Advantage plans because the supplemental benefits they offer are more affordable that traditional Medicare supplement plans. Another plus is the convenience of including Part D prescription drug coverage at no addition premium cost. Historically, Medicare Advantage plans have been a way for moderate to low income beneficiaries who do not qualify for Medi-Cal assistance to lower their fixed monthly premiums.

The future of Medicare Advantage plans remains uncertain, however. Policy changes enacted by the health care reform law will continue to cut federal payments to plan sponsors. New health care quality based incentives payments will offset this to some extent, but the trend is to reduce plan payments.

The total national number of Medicare Advantage plan members grew by 10% in 2012 to more than 13 million enrollees.

The total national number of Medicare Advantage plan members grew by 10% in 2012 to more than 13 million enrollees. This is about double the number of people that were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2005 before Medicare Part D was added as a benefit in 2006. The majority of members are enrolled in HMO plans, but the percentage of those enrolled in PPO plans is increasing.

In California, there are now over 1.8 million Medicare Advantage HMO members compared to just 61,000 members enrolled in Medicare Advantage PPO plans. All totaled, about 36% of the Medicare eligible population is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage. The top 3 carriers hold 70% of all members. Kaiser Foundation Health Plans has 46% of all members, followed by United HealthCare with 18%, and Health Net of California with 8%.

Medicare beneficiaries are attracted to Medicare Advantage plans because the supplemental benefits they offer are more affordable that traditional Medicare supplement plans. Another plus is the convenience of including Part D prescription drug coverage at no addition premium cost. Historically, Medicare Advantage plans have been a way for moderate to low income beneficiaries who do not qualify for Medi-Cal assistance to lower their fixed monthly premiums.

The future of Medicare Advantage plans remains uncertain, however. Policy changes enacted by the health care reform law will continue to cut federal payments to plan sponsors. New health care quality based incentives payments will offset this to some extent, but the trend is to reduce plan payments.