CMS: Medicare enrollment broke 66.8M in December; Medicare Advantage market share DROPS slightly!

Every month for years now, the Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services (CMS) has published a monthly press release with a breakout of total Medicare, Medicaid & CHIP enrollment; the most recent one was posted in late February, and ran through November 2022.

Since December 2022, however, they haven't sent out the normal press release; instead, they included a brief note leading to a Medicaid/CHIP data slideshow , along with another note leading to their new Medicare Monthly Enrollment database.

In any event, according to the spreadsheet I exported, as of December 2023:

  • Total Medicare beneficiaries reached 66,874,253...up 60,488 from November.
    • Original Medicare beneficiaries stood at 34,241,305...up 40,242.
    • Medicare Advantage beneficiaries reached 32,632,948...up 20,246.

That's right--traditional Medicare enrollment increased by twice as much as Medicare Advantage in December! Both numbers are nominal compared to total enrollment, and this could be a simple temporary data glitch (this is preliminary data, I believe), but it's still noteworthy given how much heat Medicare Advantage has gotten in recent months.

    • Enrollees 65+ reached 59,338,221 (up 37,773)
    • Enrollees under 65 (for various disabilities): 7,536,032 (up 22,715)

While Medicare Advantage is still hovering right on the cusp of overtaking traditional Medicare as being the default choice of enrollees, it's worth noting that the new enrollment reversal has caused MA's market share to drop ever so slightly, from 48.9% in November to 48.8% in December.

Over the past 5 years, Medicare Advantage enrollment has increased from 35.5% of all Medicare enrollment to 48.8% as of December 2023, and is clearly set to take over as the default path very soon...likely sometime this year. Obviously whether this is a good or bad thing depends on your perspective, but unless there are significant policy changes to one or both, it's pretty much inevitable.