As plans prepare for Open Enrollment (OE), it’s critical to understand what beneficiaries need as these Medicare Advantage (MA) plans look to recruit new and retain existing beneficiaries. It’s also critical for plans to understand historical data in specific regions to make appropriate expansion decisions. In this blog, we will provide insight into areas that appear to be underserved by MA, areas where MA penetration is trending down, and areas actively growing. These insights will give you a high-level understanding of potential factors to consider when thinking about expansion. Let’s begin by looking at the MA Enrollment trends from last year’s OE period.
MA Enrollment Trends From Last Year’s Open Enrollment Period
Overall, MA enrollment grew from December 2020 to February 2021. In February of 2021, we saw over 26 million beneficiaries; while in December of 2020, we saw around 25 million beneficiaries. This growth in MA has been a trend across the past 15 years or so, leaving some to wonder when MA will eventually hit the 50% mark (39% penetration in 2020, 42% in 20211).
Specifically, in February 2021, the average county MA penetration rate was 35% (with the median county MA penetration rate of 36%). This was an increase from December 2020 where the average county penetration rate and median county penetration rate were both 32%.
Across the counties that saw the highest MA penetration, we see that Puerto Rico is a clear leader in terms of high enrollment rates. In fact, their county with the lowest MA penetration rate is 69%, which is still an incredibly high enrollment rate. We also see high MA enrollment across counties in Michigan, Connecticut, Alabama, Georgia, Hawaii.
To map and quantify the highest MA enrollment, we have averaged the county MA penetration rates by state or territory below in Table 1.