Over half of Medicare beneficiaries are now in Medicare Advantage, which uses private health plans to provide care to members. Health plans love the program, as it provides significant profit opportunities because the plans can manage care more effectively than the essentially unmanaged fee-for-service arm. Increasingly those aging into Medicare have spent their working lives with health benefits provided by the same health plan companies that do MA. Members in the MA plans typically get reduced cost-sharing and benefits not available in fee-for-service Medicare. So enrollment is likely to continue growing and at some point Congress should just voucherize the whole program and save a fortune on admin costs. The MA plans also include a disproportionate number of poorer people and minorities.
One of the benefits of being in MA is better care leading to better health. Another example of this is found in a report on cancer care in MA plans. MA members get recommended cancer screenings at higher rates, likely leading to earlier diagnoses and better outcomes. They have lower cost-sharing and feel less of a financial burden from their cancer. And they report feeling that their care was managed more effectively. Just one reason why managed care can help Medicare beneficiaries. (ATI Report)