Medicare Learning Center

The Medicare Learning Center and MedicareHMO newsletter, brought to you by MCOL, have been developed to provide a resource for health care professionals for business information on Medicare health plans and related programs including Medicare Advantage and Part D Presecription Drug Plans.

The Medicare Learning Center offers the following resources:

  • Sign up to receive the complimentary MedicareHMO e-Newsletter
  • Browse our dictionary, with a searchable Glossary of common and obscure Medicare terminology
  • Reference our Fact Sheet, filled with key data and information
  • Review Lists compiled of relevant Medicare data and more, from healthsprocket
  • Check out  links to important web External Resources from around the web curated for professionals
  • Consult our library of Videos on selected Medicare business topics

 

The above graphic is used with permission from KBM Group: Health Services, all rights reserved.

Medicare Learning Center MedicareHMO Newsletter

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Term Definition
Medicare Secondary Payer Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) is the term used by Medicare when Medicare is not responsible for paying first. (The private insurance industry generally talks about "Coordination of Benefits" when assigning responsibility for first and second payment.) The MSP provisions ensure that Medicare does not pay for services and items that certain health insurance or coverage is primarily responsible for paying. The MSP provisions apply to situations when Medicare is not the beneficiary’s primary health insurance coverage.
Medicare Select A type of Medicare supplement insurance which has lower premiums in return for a limited choice of beneficiaries: they will use only providers who have been selected by the insurer as "preferred providers". Also covers emergency care outside the preferred provider network.
Medicare Shared Savings Program The Affordable Care Act requires CMS to establish a shared savings program to facilitate coordination and cooperation among providers to improve the quality of care for Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries and reduce unnecessary costs. Eligible providers, hospitals and suppliers may participate in the Shared Savings Program by creating or joining an Accountable Care Organization, also called an ACO.
Medicare Supplement An insurance policy that provides coverage to Medicare beneficiaries in addition to Medicare, usually covering portions or all of Medicare deductibles, coinsurance and copayment amounts.
Medicare+Choice The name used prior to "Medicare Advantage" to refer to the CMS Medicare managed care program
Medigap An insurance policy that’s a supplement to Medicare.
MedPAC See Medicare Payment Advisory Commission
Member In managed care each patient with insurance coverage under a health plan is called a member. Other terms used include enrollees and covered lives. Subscribers and covered dependents are all members. A subscriber with a covered spouse and three children would equal five members.
MMA See Medicare Modernization Act
National Provider Identifier National Provider Identifier is the standard unique health identifier for health care providers (including Medicare suppliers) and is assigned by the National Plan and Provider Enumeration System (NPPES).
Observation Status A patient's hospital observation status is whether the hospital considers them an "inpatient" or "outpatient". Someone is an inpatient starting the day they're formally admitted to the hospital with a doctor's order. The day before they're discharged is their last inpatient day. They're an outpatient if they're getting emergency department services, observation services, outpatient surgery, lab tests, or X-rays, and the doctor hasn't written an order to admit them to the hospital as an inpatient. Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) covers inpatient hospital services. Medicare Part B covers outpatient hospital services.
Optional supplemental benefits Services that Medicare doesn't cover, but that a Medicare health plan may choose to offer. If a beneficiary enrolls in a plan with these services, they may choose to buy the services. If they choose to buy these benefits, they will pay for them directly, usually as a premium, copayment, and/or coinsurance. These services may be offered individually or as a group of services, and they may be different for each Medicare health plan.
Out-of-Area Services rendered outside pre-defined service area.
Out-of-Pocket Expenses The dollar amounts the subscriber is still responsible to pay after the Plan has made payment for provider services rendered. Out-of-pocket expenses result from cost sharing requirements including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, as well as non-covered benefits, and costs in excess of plan maximums.
Outpatient Prospective Payment System The way that Medicare will pay for most outpatient services at hospitals or community mental health centers under Medicare Part B.

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Programs

Medicare Advantage (MA) is also known as Medicare Part C, and is an alternative for beneficiaries to Original fee-for-service Medicare. These MA beneficiaries must be enrolled in both Medicare Part A and Part B, and continue to pay Part B premium. Under the MA program, Medicare contracts with and pays private plans to provide benefits and cover services for applicable beneficiaries during annual open enrollments or upon becoming eligible. Open enrollment period currently runs from November 15 – December 31st. Medicare contracts with private plans under this MA or other prepaid categories:

  • Local HMOs
  • Local  PPOs
  • Private Fee-for-Service plans (PFFS) authorized in 1997, were not required to establish networks, will generally be required to do so but beginning in 2011
  • Special Needs Plans (SNPs), restricted to beneficiaries who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid; live in long-term care institutions (or would otherwise require an institutional level of care); or (3) have certain chronic conditions.
  • Regional PPOs, established to provide rural beneficiaries greater access to MA, and cover entire statewide or multi-state regions.
  • Other types of private plans outside the regular MA program (e.g., cost plans, HCPP, PACE, medical savings accounts, demonstrations and pilots)

The Medicare Prescription Drug Program, also known as Medicare Part D, is available to beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part A or Part B, who choose to enroll in a Medicare prescription drug plan, either a stand-alone Part D plan or a Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug coverage.  

Enrollment

Inforgraphic on Medicare Advantage Plan Enrollment

As of April 2015, there were 16,398,126 million enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans and another 953,465 in related prepaid programs for a total 17,351,591 prepaid enrollees, including 85.8% in Local HMOs and Local PPOs; 1.5% in PFFS plans; 7.1% in Regional PPOs and 5.6% in Other Programs including Cost, PACE, MSAs, and pilots. 88.1% of these MA beneficiaries had a MA prescription drug plan; 11.8% were Special Needs Plans enrollees; and 19.0% were Employer Plan enrollees. 1  Approximately 30% of Medicare Beneficiaries receive benefits through Medicare Advantage plans. 8

The top five states for Medicare Advantage enrollment as of April 2015, which account for 42% of total MA enrollment, are as follows: California – 2,275,768; Florida – 1,589,563; Texas – 1,125,946; New York – 1,231,700; and Pennsylvania – 1,012,306. There are sixteen states and territories with over a one-third penetration rate (compared to the national overall rate of 31.9%): Arizona       - 38.8%; California - 40.8%; Colorado - 37.3%; Florida - 40.3%; Hawaii - 46.2%; Minnesota - 54.0%; Nevada - 33.6%; New York - 37.1%; Ohio - 41.4%; Oregon - 44.4%; Pennsylvania - 40.3%; Puerto Rico - 74.9%; Rhode Island - 35.3%; Tennessee - 34.4%; Utah - 34.1%; Wisconsin - 37.9%; and Idaho - 32.9%. 2

As of April 2015, there were 23,967,558 enrollees in Medicare Prescription Drug Plan enrollees, including 19.6% that are Employer Plan enrollees. 1 The top five states for PDP enrollment, which account for 26.7% of total PDP enrollment, are as follows: California - 2,055,343; Florida - 1,407,630; Texas - 1,564,789; New York - 1,386,331; and Pennsylvania - 1,037,553. There are twenty states and territories with over a 50% penetration rate (compared to the national overall rate of 44.1%): Virgin Islands - 88.5% North Dakota - 66.6%; Vermont - 66.3%; Delaware - 65.5%; Iowa - 63.3%; South Dakota - 61.0%; Nebraska - 60.1%; Wyoming - 59.6%; New Jersey - 59.4%; Michigan - 58.4%; Kansas        57.8%; Mississippi - 57.4%; New Hampshire - 56.8%; Kentucky - 53.6%; Indiana - 52.6%; Maryland - 51.8%; Oklahoma - 51.2%; Illinois - 51.0%; Arkansas - 50.8%; and Connecticut - 50.8%. 3

Previously, there were 6.9 million MA enrollees in 1999, 5.6 million in 2005 and 13.1 million in 2012, with overall penetration rates of 18% in 1999, 13% in 2005 and 27% in 2012. 4

Participating Plans

As of April 2015, CMS had 529 Medicare Advantage plan contracts in place; 209 other prepaid plan contracts including 114 PACE agreements; and 76 Prescription Drug Program contracts. 1 Contracts can cover more than one plan for an organization. There are 1,945 MA plans available in 2015, compared to 2,014 in 2014, 2,074 in 2013, 1,974 in 2012, 2,011 in 2011 and 2,314 in 2010. For 2015, 65.6% of these plans were local HMOs, 23.9% were local PPOs, 3.5% were PFFS plans, 2.2% were Regional PPOs and 4.8% were Cost and other plans. 6

Of the 16,256,265 April 2015 enrollees in local HMO, PPO, PFFS and other prepaid plans excluding regional PPOs represented by 312 parent organizations, the top five parent organizations had 52.9% of total enrollment and are as follows: 5

  • UnitedHealth Group – 2,864,845
  • Humana – 2,683,054
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan – 1,301,209
  • Aetna –1,253,442
  • Cigna – 496,507

Of the 1,236,386 April 2015 Regional PPO enrollees represented by four contracting parent organizations, UnitedHealth Group, Inc. held the largest number of enrollees, with 47.3%.  5 As of April 2015, the top five Medicare Prescription Drug Plan contracts by enrollment represent 75.9% of total enrollment and are as follows: 5

  • UnitedHealth Group, Inc. – 5,119,963
  • CVS Caremark Corporation – 4,459,328
  • Humana Inc. – 4,296,565
  • Express Scripts Holding Company – 2,724,654
  • Cigna – 1,474,322

Kaiser Family Foundation found that for 2015 90 percent of beneficiaries will have access to an HMO and 80 percent will have access to a local PPO. Among beneficiaries in rural areas, 66 percent will have access to an HMO and 69 percent will have access to a local PPO. 6

PDP Benefits

Kaiser Family Foundation found that for 2015, 44% of MA-PDs will offer some prescription drug coverage in the Part D coverage gap; while 63% have a $0 coverage deductible, 13% have a deductible under $200 and 24% have a deductible exceeding $200.   6

Premiums

Kaiser Family Foundation found that in 2015, the average unweighted monthly premium for Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans (MA-PDs) will be $53 – a $3 increase over 2014. Monthly premiums for HMOS will average $38, up $3 from 2014.  6

Kaiser Family Foundation also found that 78% of all beneficiaries will have access to a zero-premium MA-PD in 2015, and that “since 2011, about half of all Medicare Advantage enrollees have been enrolled in a zero-premium MA-PD” 6

Regions

CMS has designed 26 MA Regions and 34 PDP Regions, which are used for risk-assignment, reporting and other various purposes. Of the 34 PDP regions, 25 consist of single states. Six regions consist of two states. Three regions encompass more than two states. Of the 26 MA regions, 11 consist of single states. Fourteen of the states that are their own regions for PDP purposes have been combined into seven two-state regions for MA purposes. Two of the PDP two-state regions have been combined into a four-state region. The remaining PDP two-state regions and other multi-state regions remain unchanged for MA purposes.7

Star Ratings

CMS now rates Medicare Advantage plans on a scale of one to five stars, according to the following scale:

  • 5 Stars - Excellent performance
  • 4 Stars - Above average performance
  • 3 Stars - Average performance
  • 2 Stars - Below average performance
  • 1 Star - Poor performance

The Star Ratings now impact an MA plan’s payments from CMS. Kaiser Family Foundation analysis for 2015 found 2% of MA contracts received 5 stars, 13% received 4.5 starts; 18% received 4 stars; 27% received 3.5 stars. 12% received 3 starts; 4% received 2 starts and 24% received no rating. 6

Payments to Plans

For 2016 Medicare Advantage Monthly Capitation Rates for Plans by County range from Northwest Arctic in Alaska ($1,309.32 5% Bonus / $ $1,243.85 0% Bonus) to Newton in Arkansas ($683.33 5% Bonus / $ 654.86 0% Bonus) [Excluding 102 counties located in the territories of PR, GU and VI with lower rates] 9

Kaiser Family Foundation describes MA payments as follows: “ Since 2006, Medicare has paid plans under a bidding process....The ACA of 2010 revised the methodology for paying plans and reduced the benchmarks...Reductions in benchmarks will be phased-in over 2 to 6 years between 2012 and 2016.  By 2017, when the new benchmarks are fully phased-in, the benchmarks will range from 95% of traditional Medicare costs in the top quartile of counties with relatively high per capita Medicare costs (e.g., Miami-Dade), to 115% of traditional Medicare costs in the bottom quartile of counties with relatively low Medicare costs (e.g., Boise).The ACA specified that plans with higher quality ratings would receive bonus payments added to their benchmarks, beginning in 2012.  The ACA also reduced rebates for all plans, but allowed plans with higher quality ratings to keep a larger share of the rebate than plans with lower quality ratings.  A CMS demonstration was implemented in 2012 that superseded bonuses specified by the ACA, raised the size of the bonus payments, and increased the number of plans that would receive bonus payments, providing an additional $8 billion in bonuses between 2012 and 2014.” 8

Utilization

The following utilization rates apply to Medicare HMOs under the Medicare Advantage program as published in the Sanofi-Aventis 2014-2015 Public Payer Digest: 9

  • Hospital Inpatient Days Per 1,000 Per Member: 1,727.1
  • Average Inpatient Length of Stay:  6.3
  • Physician Encounters Per Member Per Year:  10.4
  • Emergency Department Visits Per Member Per Year: 0.45
  • Prescriptions Per Member Per Year  29.4

Notes

1 Medicare Advantage, Cost, PACE, Demo, and Prescription Drug Plan Contract Report - Monthly Summary Report (Data as of April 2015), CMS

2 MA State/County Penetration Report- April 2015 CMS

3 PDP State/County Penetration Report- April 2015, CMS

4 Medicare Advantage Fact Sheet, Kaiser Family Foundation, November 2012, http://kff.org/medicare/fact-sheet/medicare-advantage-fact-sheet/

5 Medicare Advantage, Cost, PACE, Demo, and Prescription Drug Plan Organizations - Monthly Report by Contract - April 2015, CMS

6 Medicare Advantage 2015 Data Spotlight, Kaiser Family Foundation, http://kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/medicare-advantage-2015-data-spotlight-overview-of-plan-changes/

7 What are the CMS Medicare Part D prescription drug plan regions? Q1Medicare.com http://www.q1medicare.com/q1group/FAQ.php?category_id=1&faq_id=360

8 Medicare Advantage Fact Sheet, Kaiser Family Foundation, May 2014  http://kff.org/medicare/fact-sheet/medicare-advantage-fact-sheet

9 Medicare Advantage Monthly Capitation Rates for 2016 for All Plans Except PACE Plans, CMS

10 Public Payer Digest, 2014–2015, Managed Care Digest Series, Sanofi-Aventis https://www.managedcaredigest.com/pdf/PublicPayer.pdf


EvolveSPM
CMS MA-PD Enrollment Data, includes MA-PD enrollments by month, by county
http://evolvespm.com/pages/CMS_Medicare_market_report.htm

AARP
Insurance & Medicare Resources
http://www.aarp.org/health/medicare-insurance/


CMS
Medicare Main Page
http://www.cms.gov/home/medicare.asp


CMS
Research, Statistics, Data & Systems
https://www.cms.gov/home/rsds.asp


CMSGov Twitter
Official Twitter account for CMS
http://twitter.com/cmsgov


The Commonwealth Fund
Medicare Portal
http://www.commonwealthfund.org/Topics/Medicare.aspx


Data.Medicare.Gov
Medicare.Gov interactive data access
http://data.medicare.gov/


FamiliesUSA
Medicare Portal
http://familiesusa.org/issues/medicare/


Gorman Health Group
Industry Resources
http://www.gormanhealthgroup.com/industry-resources


Kaiser Family Foundation
Medicare: Medicare Advantage / Private Plans
http://www.kff.org/medicare/choice.cfm


Kaiser Family Foundation
Medicare: Part D / Prescription Drugs
http://www.kff.org/medicare/rxdrugs.cfm


The Medicare Blog
CMS Medicare Blog for Consumers
http://blog.medicare.gov/


Medicare.gov
Database Downloads
http://www.medicare.gov/download/downloaddb.asp


Social Security Adminsitration - Actuarial Publications
Status of the Social Security and Medicare Programs
http://www.ssa.gov/oact/trsum/index.html