Medicare Advantage plans are proving to bepopular with some of the very groups it was designed to providecoverage for.

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A survey by America’s Health Insurance Plans reports that moreminorities selected an Advantage plan than a traditional Medicareplan, by a 30 percent-to-23 percent margin. Overall, 30 percent ofthose enrolled in a Medicare plan — 16 million seniors — chose anAdvantage plan, the report said.

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AHIP said it released the results of its survey “as CMS preparesto announce preliminary 2016 Medicare Advantage payment policiesthat could further impact seniors’ coverage and benefits,particularly for the growing number of low-income beneficiaries whodepend on these health care services.”

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The survey underscores the popularity of the enriched Advantagecoverage among low-income seniors, who are apparently flocking toAdvantage knowing that they will get a bigger bang for theirhealth care buck.

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“Medicare Advantage offers comprehensive disease managementprograms and care coordination services to help millions of seniorsmanage their health conditions. Moreover, Medicare Advantage planscontinue to outperform traditional fee-for-service (FFS) Medicareat addressing crucial patient care issues and improving healthoutcomes,” AHIP said.

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The analysis was based on data from the Medicare CurrentBeneficiary Survey. Other key findings include:

  • 44 percent of Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries chose MedicareAdvantage;

  • 30 percent of African-American beneficiaries chose MedicareAdvantage.

  • 37 percent of seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage had incomesof less than $20,000, compared to 34 percent of all Medicarebeneficiaries;

  • 55 percent of seniors with Medicare Advantage were women.

“Medicare Advantage’s care coordination programs and servicesare particularly important for low-income beneficiaries as theseindividuals are more likely to have multiple chronic diseases,cognitive impairments, or need help with daily living activities,”the report concluded. “As more low-income individuals come to relyon Medicare Advantage for their coverage, policymakers shouldconsider policies that better enable health plans to addressenrollees’ complex health needs.”

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.