Why Medicare Advantage Is Important

by Marilyn Tavenner

October 25, 2016

At AHIP’s National Conference on Medicare, we began a week of insight, innovation, and collaboration. Last year, Medicare celebrated its 50-year history. It was a notable milestone for the country and the tens of millions of beneficiaries Medicare serves every day. Importantly, it was a chance to look back on how far we have come in improving care – and improving health – for seniors and the most vulnerable.

As we consider the evolution of the Medicare program over the past 50 years, we have seen the critical role that partnership has played.  We know that the public and private sectors can effectively work together to deliver the kind of innovative care and coverage we see in Medicare today.

Medicare Advantage is that catalyst.  Medicare Advantage has delivered real results for the people who depend on the program – and for the hardworking taxpayers who support it.

Consider these facts: Per the latest research, in areas where penetration is strongest, Medicare Advantage has delivered significant decreases in Medicare fee-for-service spending growth. This latest Health Affairs study found this “spillover effect” was $154 in cost-savings for each 10-percentage point increase in Medicare Advantage penetration.

This effect, a product of Medicare Advantage plans working with providers to deliver more coordinated care, is driving our progress towards the triple aim – “better care, improved health, lower costs” for patients – not just those in Medicare Advantage.

Today, Medicare Advantage is more efficient than traditional Medicare at delivering benefits and care to seniors and individuals with disabilities. Combined with the spillover impact, that means that the average cost of the Medicare Advantage program is now below the fee-for-service program. These results show the critical role of the private sector and government working together – efficiently and effectively.  They show that proven approaches – like coordinated care and a focus on wellness and prevention – deliver real value and are essential to success.

Seniors in the Medicare Advantage program benefit from higher quality measures with the program outperforming traditional Medicare on breast cancer screenings, diabetes monitoring, cholesterol testing, and vaccinations for flu and pneumonia. Multiply that quality improvement and cost-savings across the nearly 18 million beneficiaries across the country who have chosen to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, and you can see the true impact of this program in fulfilling the promise of high-quality, affordable care.

Our focus at AHIP will be to continue to strengthen the program.  To inform, educate, and engage policymakers and the public about the value Medicare Advantage delivers. We all benefit from a Medicare Advantage program that continues to grow, continues to deliver real solutions and real results, that improves the health of seniors and the rest of the health system.

Marilyn Tavenner is President and CEO of AHIP.