"This year, 42 percent of Medicare-eligible beneficiaries are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, up from 32 percent just five years ago."
Medicare Advantage is experiencing several meaningful competitive shifts, as results from the 2021 plan year make clear. The percentage of Medicare-eligible beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage continues to climb. This year, 42 percent of Medicare-eligible beneficiaries are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, up from 32 percent just five years ago. We continue to see an accelerated concentration of market share into for-profit plans at the expense of non-profit health plans, which continue to struggle to find competitive growth. We studied this impact on non-profit plans across both non-profit Blue-branded health plans, referred to simply as “Blues” in this report, and other non-profit health plans, which are either provider-sponsored or independent regional plans. Meanwhile, for-profit plans are making rapid share gains, accelerated by successful entry into new markets and the emergence of startup venture-backed plans.
This report details a series of compelling trends for all health plans to consider to better position for future growth, including:
Medicare Advantage grew 9.6 percent this year, while enrollment in Original Medicare fell 2.6 percent, pushing Medicare Advantage penetration to 42 percent.
For-profit plan growth continues to outpace Blue and non-profit plans. For-profit plans now account for 71 percent of all enrollees, up from 69 percent last year.
Among for-profit plans, UnitedHealthcare and Centene saw the greatest gains, adding 1.6 million lives between the two, and pushing their combined share up 4 points.
Smaller Blue and non-profit health plans saw promising enrollment gains through outsized share growth this plan year. This may be a sign that these plans can continue to become more competitive in the future.
New market growth continues to pay dividends for national for-profit and venture-backed health plans. Entry into new markets successfully converts into greater enrollment growth over time.
Venture-backed health plans now account for approximately 241,000 lives (1 percent of national enrollment) and collectively added 64,000 lives, more this year than any year prior.
Medicare Advantage Grew More Than Any Time in Its History, Passing an Important Milestone
Medicare Advantage crossed a notable threshold for the 2021 plan year: 42 percent of the nearly 62 million Medicare enrollees are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. Overall, Medicare grew by approximately 1.3 million lives in 2021. Growth was driven by a combination of an increase of 2.25 million new Medicare Advantage enrollees and a 950,000-enrollee decline in Original Medicare — reflecting a trend of accelerating Medicare Advantage enrollment by both age-ins and a conversion of existing Original Medicare lives.