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Medicare Advantage Plans Remain Reluctant to Raise Premiums

Analysis  |  By Jay Asser  
   September 28, 2023

CMS announced minimal changes to the average monthly plan premium in the private program.

Payers offering Medicare Advantage (MA) plans continue to want to keep premiums down to attract members.

CMS announced that average premiums, benefits, and plan choices for MA will remain relatively unchanged in 2024, with the data showing that MA plans are opting to remain competitive with their offerings.

The average monthly plan premium for all MA plans is projected to bump up 4% from $17.86 in 2023 to $18.50 in 2024. Most members that choose to stay in their plan will experience little to no premium increase, with nearly 73% not seeing any premium increases at all, according to the federal agency. Supplemental benefit offerings, meanwhile, will "increase slightly."

"Today's release shows that, as expected, people with Medicare will continue to have robust options and stable benefit offerings in the MA market," Meena Seshamani, CMS deputy administrator and director of the Center for Medicare, said in a statement. "We encourage individuals eligible for Medicare to review these options as well as Traditional Medicare and enroll in the option that best meets their health needs."

The availability of low to zero-dollar premium plans in MA has been a factor in the private program's growth over the past decade and with MA enrollment in 2024 projected to represent approximately 50% of all Medicare enrollees, MA payers are eager to seize as much of the market as possible.

However, it is possible that the saturation of zero-dollar premium plans is driving more beneficiaries to choose plans with higher premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs.

According to a recent report from eHealth, demand in zero-dollar premium plans fell for the first time since 2018. While 84% of eHealth enrollees still chose a plan without a monthly premium, the potential trend away zero-dollar premium plans may cause MA plans to reconsider offerings in the future.

Jay Asser is the contributing editor for strategy at HealthLeaders. 

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