With more than 22 million people with Medicare (34%) enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2019, the private plan alternative to the traditional Medicare program, it is important to understand what the plan landscape looks like for 2020. The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) recently released a brief which provides an overview of the Medicare Advantage plans that will be available for 2020, based on an analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). They found that:
- Overall number of plans increases from 2019 to 2020. Nationwide, 3,148 Medicare Advantage plans will be available, which is an increase of 414 plans since 2019. The average person with Medicare who is considering Medicare Advantage will have 28 plans to choose from in 2020, up from 24 in 2019. Paradoxically, this amount of choice may cause beneficiaries to struggle to find the correct plan for their circumstances.
- Variation in number of plans available. There will be wide variation in the number of plans individual counties will have available, with a high of 60 plans and a low of zero. Metropolitan counties will have an average of 31 plans, while non-metropolitan counties will have an average of 16 plans.
- More plans, but not as many different plan sponsors. The average beneficiary will be able to choose from plans offered by seven companies in 2020, which is similar to 2019. In all, well over 100 firms will offer Medicare Advantage plans in 2020.
- Extra Benefits. Nearly all beneficiaries have access to a Medicare Advantage plan that provides benefits that are not covered by traditional Medicare. The most common extra benefits are dental, fitness, vision, and hearing. Some extra benefits are included in fewer plans, such as in-home support, bathroom safety, telemonitoring services, and support for caregivers of enrollees. These benefits may not be available to all enrollees – people should contact plans or read plan materials to find out if benefits they are interested in are widely available or only for a subset of enrollees, for example, people with certain chronic conditions.