Each Medicare Advantage (MA) plan has an associated “value added,” defined as the value of benefits provided to a specific plan’s beneficiaries above traditional Medicare that are not funded through member premiums. This report by Milliman actuaries Julia Friedman and Brett Swanson highlights key changes in beneficiary premiums and benefits for the 2018 MA market. The report also examines the reasons for, and the magnitude of, the decrease in value added within the MA market between 2014 and 2016 as well as the increases in value added in 2017 and 2018. The report aims to assist Medicare Advantage organizations in making strategic decisions during 2019 bid preparations.
Successful Medicare Advantage organizations maximize federal revenue to provide enhanced benefits and/or reduced premiums to their members, which ultimately improves marketability with the aim of increasing membership. Organizations entering the Medicare Advantage market should be aware of the current star rating climate as well as short- and long-term star rating and revenue considerations. This report by Milliman consultants provides perspective.
The Medicare Advantage (MA) and Prescription Drug (PD) Benefit Program proposed rule for 2019 discusses important policy updates that may have a significant impact on the product development process for 2019. The proposed changes provide new opportunities for plans to innovate benefit designs and tailor packages for selected enrollees. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is also requesting feedback on Part D rebates and price concessions that could have a profound impact on the way formularies and pharmacy benefits are managed. Finally, we also highlight additional proposed changes in enrollment policies that may result in strategic implications.
The key advantage for product development is CMS’s proposal to discontinue the use of “meaningful differences” requirements. By removing the restriction that limits the number of plans a Medicare Advantage Organization (MAO) could offer, MAOs would be in a position to develop a more diverse portfolio of products. In addition, plans can focus on creating product designs that are meaningful to beneficiaries instead of making benefit decisions based on the results of the CMS out-of-pocket cost (OOPC) calculator prescribed methodology. CMS did not propose waiving the Total Beneficiary Cost (TBC) requirements, meaning that plans would still need to rely on the OOPC methodology to determine year-over-year plan changes.
CMS is proposing additional flexibility in the benefit design process. One proposal would allow plans to offer different cost sharing and/or additional supplemental benefits for specific subsets of enrollees based on defined health conditions (e.g., zero cost share for diabetic supplies for patients diagnosed with diabetes). In addition, CMS also proposes to allow additional flexibility with plan designs for segments within plans by being able to offer different supplemental benefit packages by segment. Finally, CMS also discusses the possibility of additional maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) levels and associated cost-sharing limits to allow plans a greater range of options versus the currently prescribed mandatory levels and to encourage plan offerings with lower MOOP limits.