The Obama administration reported this week that Medicare Advantage enrollment is at an all-time high despite criticized cuts to the program.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said that enrollment is projected to hit an all-time high for the fifth straight year, while claiming that costs for the program have remained stable.
The average MA premium submitted by health plans for 2015 would increase by $2.94 next year, to $33.90 per month. But as a result of more individuals seeking out lower-cost plans, the CMS estimates that the average premium hike will actually be $1.30 per month. They said 61 percent will see little or no premium increases.
Carriers have heavily criticized proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage, arguing that it could cost seniors in terms of benefits and choices.
But in its statement, CMS said that the program is going strong, helped by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
“Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted, enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans is now at an all-time high, and premiums have fallen,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Seniors and people with disabilities are benefiting from a transparent and competitive marketplace for Medicare health and drug plans.”
In response to the new CMS data, health consulting firm Avalare Health said that MA pressures continue and will peak next year.
“Next year will be a pivotal year for the Medicare Advantage market — the confluence of payment pressures and realignment in the provider markets is likely to have a significant impact on plan participation decisions and benefit design,” Avalere Health CEO Dan Mendelson said.
Open enrollment for Medicare health and drug plans begin Oct. 15, and ends Dec. 7.