KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

Overhaul Will Bring Changes, Improve Quality For Medicare Advantage Plans

The Wall Street Journal: "Over the next 10 years, the new health-care law will divert some $132 billion from Medicare Advantage, according to a recent report by George Washington University's Department of Health Policy. This has sparked concern that these plans may reduce benefits, raise premiums, or both. But the impact is likely to vary from plan to plan. Medicare currently pays Medicare Advantage plans an average of 13% more than the cost of covering the same beneficiaries under traditional fee-for-service Medicare." Once the reductions are implemented, Advantage plans will still receive slightly more than the traditional plans, "[b]ut depending on whether Medicare costs in your county are high or low, your plan could receive anywhere from 5% less to 15% more than the average cost of original Medicare in your area" (Tergesen, 5/9).

St. Petersburg Times: "Millions of seniors have worried that federal health reform would eliminate Medicare Advantage, the popular plans that offer perks like gym memberships but cost the government more than standard Medicare. Advantage plans survived, but a study says most of their customers - especially in Florida - aren't getting top-rated service. Nor can they, at least yet. Of the more than 80 Advantage plans offered to Medicare beneficiaries in Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, nearly all rated between 2.5 to three stars on a government quality scale of five stars. One star is 'poor;' five is 'excellent.' No local plans rated four or five stars." That's likely to change, though. AS a result of the health overhaul, plans that "score four or five stars can get more money from the government" (Martin, 5/10). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.