Medicare Advantage Market in New York Is as Robust as It Was Before Implementation of the Affordable Care Act

Two New Reports Examine the Medicare Advantage Plan Landscape

Release Date: 07.17.2014
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Today, the Medicare Rights Center released a new report about the impact of the Affordable Care Act on reducing federal reimbursements to private health insurance plans that provide Medicare benefits through New York’s Medicare Advantage program. The report’s findings contradict predictions that a reduction in payments to Medicare Advantage plans under the Affordable Care Act would cause insurers to exit the market, decrease plan benefits or immediately pass through costs to Medicare beneficiaries. A companion piece issued by the United Hospital Fund examines Medicare Advantage market enrollment and financial results from 2010 to 2012, the initial phase of the Affordable Care Act implementation.

The Medicare Rights Center report, New York’s Medicare Marketplace—Update: Examining New York’s Medicare Advantage Plan Landscape after the Affordable Care Act, analyzes the Medicare Advantage plan landscape in New York State from 2011 through 2014 and summarizes changes in plan enrollment, benefit offerings, premiums and cost sharing before and after the implementation of Affordable Care Act cost-saving measures. Medicare Advantage payment reductions under the Affordable Care Act were intended to better align Medicare Advantage payments with the average cost of Original Medicare by county.

“The doomsayers were wrong when they said that a reduction in plan payments will increase premiums, decrease benefits, and diminish plan choices in the Medicare Advantage market,” said Casey Schwarz, Policy & Client Services Counsel at the Medicare Rights Center and report author. “Up to this point in New York, plan availability and affordability has remained relatively unchanged and has improved in some areas, according to our survey.”

The United Hospital Fund report, New York’s Medicare Advantage Market, 2010-2012, notes that enrollment over the study period grew by 17 percent, with HMOs being the most popular Medicare Advantage product by far (nearly 75 percent of enrollees). While underwriting income for HMOs from Medicare Advantage fell 13 percent from 2010 to 2012, this underwriting income still topped $401 million in 2012.

“There’s no question that Medicare Advantage continues to enjoy enormous popularity among beneficiaries in New York, and it has also become an important line of business for health plans’ overall performance,” said Peter Newell, Director of the Health Insurance Project at the United Hospital Fund and an author of the Fund report.

“The experience we document in New York is roughly similar to what has happened in the Medicare Advantage market nationwide, and it is reassuring that the overall Medicare Advantage plan landscape in 2014 appears to be as robust as it was before implementation of the Affordable Care Act,” said Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center. “However, as changes in reimbursements to Medicare Advantage plans move forward, we must continue to monitor plan benefits and make certain that insurers’ efforts to control costs and maintain their bottom lines do not create problems for beneficiaries.”

The Medicare Rights Center report was made possible by a grant from the United Hospital Fund.

New York’s Medicare Marketplace—Update: Examining New York’s Medicare Advantage Plan Landscape after the Affordable Care Act is available at http://www.medicarerights.org/policy/priorities/new-yorks-medicare-marketplace-july-2014.

New York’s Medicare Advantage Market, 2010-2012 is available at http://www.uhfnyc.org/publications/880995.

About the Medicare Rights Center: The Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs and public policy initiatives.

About the United Hospital Fund: The United Hospital Fund is a health services research and philanthropic organization whose primary mission is to shape positive change in health care for the people of New York.

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