Earlier this year we told you to expect changes in Medicare Advantage plans, because Congress was reducing reimbursements to insurers and making other changes. The plan offerings for 2010 are in, and you do indeed face changes in Advantage plans.
Almost all Medicare beneficiaries have an Advantage plan available to them. But about 7% of Advantage plan members will have to choose new coverage because their plans folded. Most of the departed plans are private fee-for-service plans, and each state is losing about half its PFFS plans.
Most counties are losing many of their Advantage plans, according to Avalere Health, and on average the number of Advantage plans decreased by 15 per county. In Florida, counties on average lost 20 Advantage offerings, and several Florida counties lost over 40 plans.
Medicare also identified plans that served a small number of beneficiaries or that were similar to plans offered by the same sponsor. Plan sponsors were encouraged to close or consolidate these plans.
In 2010 the average premium for an Advantage plan is $39, about $7 more than in 2009. Plans with no premiums are available to about 87% of beneficiaries.
Because of actions by Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, the trend is for higher premiums, reduced coverage, and less choice for Medicare beneficiaries. As we urged last month, review changes in your current plan. Then, go to the Medicare web site or call Medicare to learn about the 2010 offerings in your area. Even if you are happy with your coverage, take a look at what else is available.
RW November 2009.