January Medicare Enrollment Report: Like it or not, Med Advantage just became the default choice.

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 January 2024:

  • Total Medicare beneficiaries reached 66,990,317...up 29,371 from December.
    • Original Medicare beneficiaries stood at 33,368,561...down a stunning 958,315.
    • Medicare Advantage beneficiaries reached 33,621,756...up an equally stunning¬†987,686.

I'm gong to assume this million-enrollee shift is actually mostly a sign of data cleanup shifting from the monthly reports to the calendar year reports (the graph below shows a similar shift from December to January each year). Regardless, the fact remains that as of January 2024, Medicare Advantage has officially become the default choice for Medicare enrollees.

I don't think it's a coincidence that this is happening at the same time that Medicare Advantage is catching heat from all quarters.

Meanwhile:

  • Enrollees 65+ broke 60 million for what I'm assuming is the first time (60,000,994, up 589,857 from December)
  • Enrollees under 65 (for various disabilities) dropped 560,486 to 6,989,323 since December

Again, this ~half-million shift appears to be a correction from the monthly reports to annual.

Over the past decade, Medicare Advantage enrollment has increased from less than 30% of all Medicare enrollment to over 50% in January 2024,

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.

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