By Rachele Elasky, product manager, and Sarah Chien, analytics solutions manager, Carrot Health.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in recent months predicted both lower premiums and richer benefits for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans in 2021. Specifically, CMS anticipated a decrease in average premiums of more than 34% from 2017 levels while plan choice, benefits, and enrollment increased—making the average monthly premium the lowest in 14 years.
But while CMS accurately depicted the indisputable trend of moving toward lower costs and higher value in MA offerings, it did not tell the whole story. To do that, we consolidated and reported on all Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plan (PDP) benefit data nationwide released by CMS. This provides a much clearer picture on how these trends impact individual members vs. across member populations.
Following are the highlights of that analysis.
More Plans Offered Than Ever Before
There will be a 13% increase over 2020 in the number of MA plans available nationwide for individual enrollment in 2021. At 3,545, this is the most plans ever offered and includes 665 new plans—a nearly 4% increase from the 642 new plans offered in 2020.
While MA enrollment is rapidly increasing, the competition is growing even faster. In 2021, there will be 21.5 MA plans in the country for every 100,000 beneficiaries. That compares to 16.8 plans per 100,000 in 2018, which is an increase of more than 53% in just four years.
This growth is not uniform across the country, however. Densely populated markets in the Northeast such as metropolitan geographies typically have the most plans to choose from although enrollment growth rates have been higher in more rural areas of the country in recent years.
New Plans, More Value
New MA plans being introduced into the market for 2021 generally offer more value than existing plans through lower premiums and richer benefits. Among new plans, premiums are one-fifth of those for existing plans ($9 vs. $42), anticipated out-of-pocket costs are lower, and nearly every supplement benefit is offered at a higher rate.
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Carrot Health, a provider of healthcare solutions powered by social determinants of health (SDoH), announced it has been named a finalist in the Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge – Health North America. Carrot Health was one of 13 companies to compete in the Boston regional round of the competition, which supports innovative technologies and drives creative solutions to improve the way people access and manage healthcare.
“We are honored to have advanced to the finals in this important program. Innovation is the engine that drives crucial improvements in healthcare, such as the ability to leverage key SDoH data to close critical care gaps by addressing the non-clinical needs that impact as much as 80% of health outcomes,” said Kurt Waltenbaugh, CEO of Carrot Health. “The caliber of technology solutions presented by our fellow competitors in the Boston round of the HealthTech Innovation Challenge was outstanding, and we are honored to have been among them.”
Carrot Health, which moves on to the finals taking place in Houston in February 2020, was selected for its Carrot MarketView platform, which generates insights for growth, quality and health using social, economic, behavioral and environmental data. MarketView helps healthcare organizations by leveraging consumer and clinical data to deliver a 360-degree view of the patient.
Validated in the market, Carrot Health’s predictive models and insights have proven effective at:
- Driving growth by identifying consumer needs
- Improving health outcomes by influencing key performance metrics, such as emergency department utilization, admission/readmission, cost of care and mortality
- Enhancing quality by closing care gaps and improving customer satisfaction
“MarketView encourages health organizations to address appropriate needs along the full healthcare hierarchy, identifying and eliminating bottlenecks before they can adversely impact quality, care outcomes and costs,” said Waltenbaugh.
Since its inception, the Accenture HealthTech Innovation Challenge has brought healthcare organizations and startups together to tackle the world’s biggest health issues. Over the life of the program, Accenture has received more than 2,200 applications, invited more than 90 startups to compete, benefitted from the time and guidance of nearly 1,000 executive judges, and awarded 10 trophies to the most innovative healthcare startups. The Health North America challenge brought together innovative startups across North America to compete in a challenge focused on solutions in the areas of operational efficiency, increased access and consumer experience.
Jobs in healthcare