Nearly 31.2 million seniors and people with disabilities are now enrolled in a private Medicare plan, known as Medicare Advantage, according to new federal government data analyzed by STAT.
That total is 7.1% higher than the 29.1 million people who had a Medicare Advantage plan in 2022. Although that annual growth rate is the lowest since 2016, the private plans now catch roughly half of the entire Medicare population.
People have been drawn to Medicare Advantage because of the program’s caps on out-of-pocket costs and extra benefits like food and coverage for dental, vision, and hearing. But patients are not always aware of the tradeoffs, like how many doctors and hospitals may be excluded from a Medicare Advantage plan’s network, or how the insurance company may deny coverage of certain drugs or procedures. Aggressive and deceptive marketing techniques from insurance brokers also have contributed to the program’s growth, and confused seniors along the way. More broadly, the program has been a drain on taxpayers, due in large part to the federal government overpaying insurers that inflate how sick their members are.
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