Medicare Advantage enrollment has been steadily growing for many years. Over 28 million Medicare beneficiaries, or 42% of the total Medicare population, are enrolled in Medicare Advantage for 2023. This is up from just 13% in 2004. A key factor driving Medicare Advantage growth is beneficiaries switching from original fee-for-service Medicare to join Medicare private managed care plans. But exactly how many make the switch each year during Medicare’s open enrollment period?
Medicare Advantage Plan Enrollment Trends 2023
- Medicare Advantage enrollment in 2023 reached 29 million members – 42% of all Medicare beneficiaries
- This represents growth of over 10 million members since 2015
- Over the past decade, Medicare Advantage enrollment increased at an average annual growth rate of 7%
- 28.4 million Medicare beneficiaries are projected to be enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans in 2023, the highest ever
Reasons Medicare Beneficiaries Switch to Medicare Advantage
There are several compelling reasons Medicare recipients decide to switch from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan:
- Medicare Advantage Plans cap out-of-pocket spending – traditional Medicare does not
- Many Medicare Advantage Plans have $0 monthly premiums
- Most Medicare Advantage Plans include prescription drug coverage
- They offer extra benefits like dental, vision, hearing, and wellness programs
- Medicare Advantage Plans provide coordinated care and integrated networks
For these reasons, millions of Medicare beneficiaries decide to switch each year.
How Many Switch During Open Enrollment?
During the Medicare Annual Election Period each year from October 15 to December 7, Medicare beneficiaries can:
- Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
- Drop a Medicare Advantage Plan and return to Original Medicare
This period represents a prime opportunity for Medicare Advantage Plans to gain new membership from beneficiaries switching from traditional Medicare.
According to figures from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:
- In 2022, 68% of Medicare beneficiaries enrolled stayed in their same plan from 2021
- Another 25% actively switched plans during open enrollment
- Of those that switched, over 2.5 million beneficiaries moved from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan
- This represented nearly 18% of total Medicare Advantage enrollment growth
- In addition, over 2.7 million beneficiaries switched from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
Based on these statistics, well over 2 million Medicare recipients make the switch from traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage each year during open enrollment. This fuels over one-third of total Medicare Advantage membership gains annually.
Are Switches Increasing Year Over Year?
Switching activity during open Medicare enrollment appears to be on the rise in recent years:
- In 2015, an estimated 1.2 million switched from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage Plans
- For 2022 enrollments, switches from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage hit 2.5 million
- This represents a 108% increase in the number switching over 7 years
Several factors are resulting in higher rates of switching:
- Increasing Medicare Advantage enrollment means more seniors are considering alternatives to Original Medicare
- The average Medicare Advantage monthly premium has decreased to just $19 in 2023
- Improved Medicare star ratings for plans allow stable options for switching
- More plans are offering $0 premium options with rich benefits
- Greater advertising spends are influencing switches
The strong value propositions from Medicare Advantage Plans may likely ensure switching rates from Original Medicare remain high during the open enrollment periods ahead.
Why Do Beneficiaries Stay with Original Medicare?
Over 85% of Medicare beneficiaries remain in Original Medicare year over year. Why do many seniors stick with traditional Medicare instead of making the switch?
Reasons many stay with Original Medicare include:
- Habit and reluctance to change plans later in life
- Misconceptions about restrictions with Medicare Advantage networks
- Desire to keep the same Medigap or retiree health plan
- Lack of knowledge about Medicare Advantage benefits and premiums
- Concerns about costs and doctor choice within Medicare Advantage
- Geographic areas with less Medicare Advantage Plan competition
While the majority remains in Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage switching activity is steadily rising thanks to expanded plan options and improved premium affordability.
Can You Switch Back to Original Medicare?
Beneficiaries who join a Medicare Advantage Plan always have the option to leave their plan and switch back to Original Medicare. Here are a few key statistics:
- Of beneficiaries who voluntarily disenroll from a Medicare Advantage Plan, 90% switch back to Original Medicare
- In 2022, 57% of voluntary disenrollment from Medicare Advantage Plans occurred in January
- This indicates many switch to Original Medicare when Medicare Advantage open enrollment ends
Medicare recipients who switch back can also purchase a stand-alone Medicare Part D Plan and a Medigap policy. This ensures they can return seamlessly back to Original Medicare coverage.
Choosing the Best Plan During Open Enrollment
If you’re considering switching between Medicare Plans this open enrollment:
- Compare premiums, copays, drug coverage, and extra benefits
- Check that your doctors participate in the Medicare Advantage Plan network
- Look for a 4-5 star plan with strong ratings
- Read the plan details closely to understand the benefits
- Speak to a licensed Medicare agent for unbiased guidance
With the right Medicare Plan choice during open enrollment, you can gain quality, affordable coverage all year long.
Based on open enrollment switching statistics over the past decade, around 2 million Medicare beneficiaries make the switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage each year. This significant rate of switching contributes greatly to the rapid growth in Medicare Advantage Plan enrollment.
We’re Here to Help
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What is the difference between Medicare and Medicare Advantage?
Traditional Medicare is the Original Medicare program run by the federal government that provides Parts A and B coverage. Medicare Advantage Plans are offered by private insurance companies and provide Medicare benefits through Medicare Part C. Traditional Medicare allows you to see any doctor accepting Medicare nationwide, while Medicare Advantage Plans have provider networks. How many Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans?
In 2022, approximately 28 million Medicare beneficiaries, or 48% of all people with Medicare, are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Enrollment in Medicare Advantage Plans has grown rapidly, from 13% of Medicare beneficiaries in 2005.
Can you switch between Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare?
Yes, Medicare beneficiaries can switch during the annual Medicare open enrollment period which runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. Those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan can switch to Original Medicare and vice versa.
What benefits do Special Needs Plans offer?
Special Needs Plans (SNPs) are Medicare Advantage Plans that limit membership to people with specific diseases, certain eligibility criteria, or who live in certain institutions. SNPs tailor their benefits, provider networks, and drug formularies to best meet the specialized needs of the groups they serve.
Why do some Medicare beneficiaries switch from Medicare Advantage to Traditional Medicare?
A5: Some reasons beneficiaries may switch from Medicare Advantage to Traditional Medicare include wanting broader provider choice, dissatisfaction with Advantage Plan benefits or costs, or concerns about plan quality. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2019, 7% of Medicare Advantage enrollees switched to Traditional Medicare.
When can you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan?
A6: You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan when you first become eligible for Medicare, during the annual Medicare open enrollment period from October 15 to December 7, or during Special Enrollment Periods if you meet certain qualifying events.
How do Medicare Advantage Plans differ from supplemental insurance?
A7: Medicare Advantage Plans provide all Medicare Part A and Part B coverage and sometimes extra benefits not offered by Traditional Medicare. Supplemental insurance (Medigap) helps pay Medicare out-of-pocket costs like deductibles and coinsurance. You cannot enroll in both a Medicare Advantage Plan and a Medigap Plan.
Do Medicare Advantage Plans cover prescription drugs?
Many, but not all, Medicare Advantage Plans include prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D as part of the plan benefits. Always check if the Medicare Advantage Plan covers prescriptions or if you will need to enroll in a separate Part D Plan.
Who is eligible to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan?
To enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan you must be entitled to Medicare Part A and enrolled in Medicare Part B. You must also live in the plan’s service area. Those eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid can enroll in certain Special Needs Plans.
What should you consider when choosing between Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare?
Key factors include costs, coverage, provider choice, convenience, and benefits. Compare plan options during open enrollment to make the best choice based on your health needs and budget. Also consider Medicare Supplement and Part D Plans if enrolling in Traditional Medicare.