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competition in Medicare Advantage

Not much competition among Medicare Advantage plans, according to The Commonwealth Fund.

Is there no competition in Medicare Advantage plans? Not according to a new study by The Commonwealth Fund. As a Minneapolis healthcare PR agency, we like competition. In the case of these privatized Medicare plans, it has the potential to drive prices down and offer more choice and better service and quality to health plan members. And, of course, as a healthcare PR and marketing firm, competition provides more opportunities for us to help get out the message.

From the abstract:

“Competition among private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans is seen by some as leading to lower premiums and expanded benefits. But how much competition exists in MA markets? Using a standard measure of market competition, our analysis finds that 97 percent of markets in U.S. counties are highly concentrated and therefore lacking in significant MA plan competition. Competition is considerably lower in rural counties than in urban ones. Even among the 100 counties with the greatest numbers of Medicare beneficiaries, 81 percent do not have competitive MA markets. Market power is concentrated among three nationwide insurance organizations in nearly two-thirds of those 100 counties.”

Is the public served by this situation? Yes, says Clare Krusing, a spokeswoman for America’s Health Insurance Plans, a Washington trade association. Quoted in The New York Times, Krusing said, “Seniors are overwhelmingly satisfied with Medicare Advantage because of the wide range of coverage options available and the overall value these plans provide. This market remains competitive, particularly with Medicare Advantage plans demonstrating improved care delivery for beneficiaries compared to traditional Medicare.”

For more on The Commonwealth Fund study, go here.

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