Health insurance companies are stressing the difference in Medicare benefits they offer compared to traditional Medicare in the face of legislation and 2020 Presidential campaign promises that would bring the private insurer’s role to an end.
Humana, one of the nation’s biggest providers of Medicare Advantage, was last week the latest health insurer to take aim at “Medicare for All” proposals that would result in a government-run single-payer form of coverage.
“Humana does not support any bill that would eliminate Medicare Advantage or make private insurance illegal,” Humana chief executive officer Bruce Broussard told analysts on the company’s first quarter earnings call last week.
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and some Democrats running for the presidency in 2020 are advocating a single payer version of Medicare for All that would replace the private healthcare system. Sanders and others argue the single payer version of Medicare for All would eliminate co-payments, deductibles and allow Americans to pick the doctors they want free of insurance company restrictions and provider network rules.
But Humana’s CEO became the latest health insurance executive to come out against single payer, joining UnitedHealth Group CEO David Wichmann who two weeks ago said certain Medicare for All proposals would lead to “the wholesale disruption of American health care.”
The latest tactic of health insurers is to bring specific examples that contrast traditional Medicare with Medicare Advantage. And the counter to single payer Medicare is coming from CEOs rather than their lobbies who historically have fought such policy battles.
“Humana (Medicare Advantage) members and value-based care settings are going to the ER 7% less and hospital admissions are 5% lower than traditional fee-for-service Medicare,” Broussard said. “Our members are also getting 11% more colorectal cancer screenings and 10% more breast cancer screenings. Under Medicare Advantage, members are able to participate in a variety of programs and services including in-home care coordination services.”
Humana is the latest health insurer to show record growth in the number of seniors who are signing up for Medicare Advantage plans, which contract with the federal government to provide extra benefits and services to seniors, such as disease management and nurse help hotlines with some also offering vision, dental care and wellness programs.
Humana’s individual Medicare Advantage membership jumped 14% to 3.4 million as of March 31. That was an increase of 414,800 from 3 million as of the end of the first quarter of last year.
The arguments of Sanders and supporters of single-payer Medicare are up against a tide of seniors picking private plans and new rules from the Trump administration that have gradually changed regulations to allow private insurers to expand Medicare Advantage and offer more benefits.
“Insurance and Medicare Advantage created an incentive to have a holistic view of a member, which is critical to the long-term success of the program and the ability to offer greater benefits and more security for individuals,” Broussard said.This year, Medicare Advantage enrollment across the country rose to more than 22 million.
“(Medicare Advantage) is a program where the payment model motivates plans to engage with individuals with complex chronic conditions while driving quality improvement clinical outcomes resulting in lower cost and higher customer satisfaction,” Broussard said. “The success of this program is evidenced by the continued increase in MA penetration, the percent of Medicare eligibles enrolled in Medicare Advantage has grown from 22% to 34% in the last decade nearly doubling membership.”
Date: May 06, 2019