Medicare Advantage enrollment tops 15 millionNews added by Benefits Pro on January 8, 2014

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By Kathryn Mayer

Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans is on the rise.

Aggregated enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans hit 15.1 million in December, up nearly 1.3 million members since December 2012, according to a new report by Mark Farrah Associates.

Membership surpassed 15 million members in October.

The growth comes despite “conservative growth strategies, pricing concerns, reductions in service areas and the loss of 25 carriers servicing this market,” the research group said in a brief.

Nationwide, nine organizations insure more than 250,000 MA members each and cover more than 65 percent of the MA market, according to the report. UnitedHealth and Humana together control nearly 38 percent of the market, up 0.9 percent from a year ago.

“In Georgia and Texas, UnitedHealthcare gained more than 50,000 members in each state. Humana, with an aggressive MA growth strategy in many areas of the country, experienced mixed results in many states,” the report said. “However, Humana did add 50,254 MA members in Kentucky, 30 percent of its overall gain year-over-year.”

The report found that Aetna saw significant gains in part due to its acquisition of Coventry Health Care. WellCare also acquired many smaller Medicare Advantage and Medicaid plans in 2003.

Enrollment in MA plans is drawn primarily from two sources, direct purchase by individuals or an employer group retiree plan. More than 17 percent of total Medicare Advantage enrollment comes through EGHPs. Kaiser Foundation Health Plans has the largest MA enrollment from group plans, the report found.

Mark Farrah Associate’s report is based on analysis of enrollment data for Medicare Advantage plans released by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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