Medicare Advantage

The Number 74%

Submitted by Rob Wyse on Sun, 08/26/2018 - 18:31

What’s the future of Medicare Advantage? It’s a question many constituencies are increasingly curious about – and working to change. From politicians on both sides of the aisle to the seniors who will be most affected by the developments, Medicare Advantage is a major talking point in 2018, and looking ahead to the future.

Starting in less than two years, by 2020, Medicare Advantage plans will have flexibility to target non-medical health-related services for members with chronic conditions. This could have major implications – as 74 percent of all Medicare spending goes to Medicare beneficiaries with four or more chronic conditions, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

[Medicare Advantage] plans are popular with both those who sign up due to the additional benefits they offer, and with insurers that have realized profits and decreased costs through narrow networks and aligned incentives,” writes Susan Morse in Healthcare Finance News.

The Number: $375 Million

Submitted by Rob Wyse on Sun, 08/19/2018 - 08:02

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has announced plans this week to invest $375 million in healthcare start-up Oscar Health. This is the “latest big bet on the privatization of Medicare,” writes Bruce Japsen of Forbes.

The investment comes on the heels of Amazon getting into the healthcare game in a big way – both in relation to prescription drugs and in private healthcare.

Oscar Health will use the big tech investment to jump into Medicare Advantage, an increasingly-popular form of health insurance for seniors.

The Number: 54%

Submitted by Rob Wyse on Mon, 07/09/2018 - 10:28

Fifty-four (54) percent of beneficiaries of Medicare Advantage believe their health plan is working with them to limit out-of-pocket spending, according to a new JD Power consumer survey. This survey was the focus of a recent HealthPayerIntelligence article on customer satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage satisfaction as a whole dropped slightly from 2017 to 2018, JD Power found. On a 1000-point scale, Medicare Advantage satisfaction scores for all plans fell from 799 to 794,” writes Thomas Beaton.

While satisfaction declined slightly, providers are also presented with an opportunity. The survey found that the Medicare Advantage market is on the rise, with a growth of 7.5% year-over-year, with more than 1.5 million new beneficiaries.

As technology availability and communication options increase, providers have ample opportunity to connect with their consumers in a way that works for all sides.

Medicare Advantage Plans at Start of Data Tsunami

Submitted by Rob Wyse on Wed, 06/06/2018 - 13:24

CMS Administrator Seema Verma announced in April that the agency has released Medicare Advantage encounter data to researchers. (Encounter data are records of the health care services for which managed care organizations pay.)  It was reported that she said at the 2018 Datpalooza conference, “We recognize that the MA data is not perfect, but we have determined that the quality of the available MA data is adequate enough to support research.”
The purpose of the encounter data is to help researchers better understand care trends for seniors.  The data could create new benchmarks for patient outcomes and costs for Medicare Advantage. We believe that analysis of encounter data will have implications for Star Ratings, risk adjustment revenue, and cost of care for Medicare Advantage plans. 
CMS released preliminary 2015 Medicare Advantage data and more data is expected from insurers through August, with final data reports to follow. It is the beginning of the CMS releasing data on MA enrollees annually going forward. 

1/100th of a Star Rating Point Could Mean Survival

Submitted by Brennan Collins on Wed, 05/23/2018 - 13:26

Some Medicare Advantage plans scored a 3.74 and were rounded to the “nearest half Star” based on Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) rules, so the plan was rated a 3.5.  Conversely, other plans were scored 3.75 and were rounded to the nearest half Star of 4.0. 

The Medicare Advantage VBID Plan Administrative Challenge

Submitted by Brennan Collins on Fri, 05/11/2018 - 11:15

CMS started its VBID (value-based insurance design) innovation model for Medicare Advantage on January 1, 2017 to run for five years.  
Eligible Medicare Advantage plans can offer “varied plan benefit design” for enrollees based on specified clinical categories identified and defined by CMS. In 2017, diabetes, congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), past stroke, hypertension, coronary artery disease, mood disorders, and combinations of thereof were the defined categories.
As reported in Healthcare Finance, CMS chose nine Medicare Advantage organizations to participate in the 2017 value-based insurance design model: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Fallon Community Health Plan of Massachusetts, Tufts Associated Health Plan of Massachusetts; Geisinger Health Plan, Aetna, Independence Blue Cross, Highmark of Pennsylvania, UPMC Health Plan of Pennsylvania; and Indiana University Health Plan. (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was added in 2018.)
With that, according to an analysis by Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP, there were 45 value-based approaches (aka plan benefit packages, or PBP) being used by the nine Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAO) individual plans.  With 45 PBPs implemented by 9 plans, that suggests that administration could be a challenge for each MAO. 

CMS Expands Medicare Diabetes Program

Submitted by Brennan Collins on Wed, 05/09/2018 - 11:50

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has expanded its Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP) to now enroll traditional healthcare providers and community-based organizations as Medicare suppliers of health behavior change services.
The  (MDPP) seeks to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes through health behavior changes. MDPP is a structured intervention geared to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes among Medicare beneficiaries with an indication of prediabetes. 
Key to prevention or delay of any chronic disease is to identify at-risk members earlier and close gaps in care faster. 
In working with Medicare plans, we have experienced that the key driving force is to get Medicare Advantage plan members to take clinical actions. We have found that the right incentives can drive these clinical actions to interpret more data to find risks earlier.
Some clinical action improvements/success we have encountered in working with Medicare Advantage plans include the following:
+40% increase – adult BMI assessment (E/M visit)
+31% increase - in-home assessment
+17% increase - retinal eye exam
+31% increase - kidney disease monitoring
+10% increase - A1c tests 

Uber & Lyft Next in Medicare Plan Choice

Submitted by Rob Wyse on Mon, 05/07/2018 - 11:52

CMS announced that it “finalized polices for Medicare health and drug plans for 2019 that will save Medicare beneficiaries money on prescription drugs while offering additional plan choices.” 
While the announcement focuses on prescription drug pricing, the additional plan choices means the agency is “reinterpreting the standards for health-related supplemental benefits.”  CMS will now allow supplemental benefits if they “compensate for physical impairments, diminish the impact of injuries or health conditions, and/or reduce avoidable emergency room utilization.”

Bruce Japsen of Forbes wrote that Uber and Lyft will likely be included in these benefits to transport seniors to doctors in on-emergency situations.  
The precedent has been set for almost 20 years with non-emergency transportation providers like Cleveland-based, Provide A Ride, a van service for Medicaid and Medicare MCO transportation benefit programs.
Plus, for Medicare Advantage plans, promoting and contracting new additional plan choices can become a marketable difference for 2019.
Additional services Medicare Advantage plans could pay for in 2019 include the following: