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Medicare Advantage Remains Vital Coverage Option For Low-Income, Diverse Populations

posted by Clare Krusing

on February 1, 2016

For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of CMS’ release of its Medicare Advantage preliminary rate notice and call letter, a new report shows that Medicare Advantage remains a vital lifeline for diverse, low-income populations. More than a third (37 percent) of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries had incomes below $20,000 and would be disproportionately harmed by additional cuts to the program.

Nationwide, 17 million seniors – roughly 30 percent of all Medicare enrollees in 2015 – have chosen Medicare Advantage for the higher quality care and additional benefits these plans provide. Unlike traditional fee-for-service Medicare, Medicare Advantage offers comprehensive disease management programs and care coordination services to help millions of seniors manage their health conditions. These programs are particularly important for low-income beneficiaries as these individuals are more likely to have multiple chronic diseases.

“For our nation’s seniors and the most vulnerable citizens, Medicare Advantage’s comprehensive, coordinated approach to care delivery improves beneficiaries’ health and quality of life,” AHIP President and CEO Marilyn Tavenner said.

The new analysis, based on 2013 data from the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS), provides a demographic overview of beneficiaries enrolled in the Medicare Advantage program. Key findings include:

  • Medicare Advantage’s enrollment had a higher share of diverse populations compared to traditional Medicare (29 percent versus 23 percent);
  • Of total Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, approximately 14 percent of enrollees were Hispanic and 11 percent were African American;
  • More than a third (37 percent) of seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage had incomes of less than $20,000. By comparison, 33 percent of all traditional Medicare beneficiaries had incomes of $20,000 or less; and
  • Over half (55 percent) of seniors with Medicare Advantage were women.

Medicare Advantage’s care coordination and disease management programs are particularly important for low-income beneficiaries as these individuals are more likely to have multiple chronic diseases. Research shows these programs consistently lead to improved health outcomes for seniors, which is why beneficiaries continue to report high satisfaction with the services MA plans provide.

To view the full report, click here.

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