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Big Health Insurers Will Expand Medicare Advantage To Hundreds Of New Counties For 2023

Health insurers that are major players in Medicare Advantage, including Humana, Cigna, the Aetna unit of CVS Health, Elevance Health and UnitedHealth Group, are launching popular plans in several new states and hundreds of new counties for 2023.

Aetna, which is located in 1,875 counties and 46 states plus Washington, D.C. with 3.2 million Medicare Advantage enrollees, expands to 2,014 counties and 46 states plus Washington, D.C.

Meanwhile, UnitedHealth Group’s UnitedHealthcare health insurance unit says its “total individual MA footprint will grow by 184 counties — from 2,629 counties in 2022 to 2,798 counties in 2023 — across 49 states and the District of Columbia.” Elevance Health, formerly Anthem, said the affiliate plans are available in 732 counties in 24 states and Puerto Rico. “The company has more than 1.6 million Medicare Advantage enrollees and is expanding to 210 new counties for next year,” said an Elevance Health spokesperson.

Cigna said it will increase its Medicare Advantage “geographic footprint” by 22% by 2023. Located in 477 counties in 26 states and Washington, DC, with more than 500,000 Medicare Advantage enrollees, Cigna is expanding and will be offered next year in 581 counties in 28 states and Washington, DC.

And Humana will launch plans in two states and 140 new counties by 2023. With the expansion, Humana said its broad range of Medicare Advantage plans, including health maintenance organizations and preferred providers, are accessible in 91% of the U.S. UnitedHealthcare is expanding “its service area to reach 95% of Medicare consumers nationwide.”

“More than 8.2 million people are currently enrolled in UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage plans, and more than a third of all Medicare Advantage enrollment growth over the past five years, including 2022, has been through UnitedHealthcare,” the health insurer said.

All this market growth is in stark contrast to a few years ago when Medicare Advantage was unavailable in much of the country.

But the program is one of the few areas of health care and US policy in general that has bipartisan support in Congress.

Medicare Advantage plans a contract with the federal government to provide seniors with additional benefits and services, such as disease management and nurse hotlines, some of which also offer vision, dental care and wellness programs. And in recent years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have allowed Medicare Advantage plans to cover more additional benefits, increasing their popularity among seniors.

Across the country, health insurers have escalated expansion into new territories, pushing Medicare Advantage enrollment to record highs. Medicare Advantage plans added more than 2 million beneficiaries for this 2022 coverage year, increasing the program to 45% of all Medicare enrollments, according to a survey earlier this year by The Chartis Group.

The more established health insurers such as Cigna, Aetna, UnitedHealthcare, Humana and Elevance Health have recently been competing with regional Medicare Advantage plans and startups are offering Medicare Advantage.

In order to be more competitive, the larger plans are spending huge sums to bolster their advantage offerings and carrier networks. Humana, for example, launched a $1 billion “Project Growth” initiative earlier this year to bolster its Medicare Advantage plans for 2023.

With the extensions, Humana Medicare Advantage plans will be available in 49 US states plus Puerto Rico and 2,877 counties. That compares to 47 US states and Puerto Rico and a total of 2,737 counties.

Humana said the 2023 offering — which will be listed along with other plans during open enrollment beginning Oct. 15 and running through Dec. 7 — “$0 premiums, dental and Rx benefits, new benefits, a USAA co-branded plan.” will include , and simplified access to prescriptions will open up more options for beneficiaries.”

“Summarizing what Humana has to offer this year, it’s as simple as this: Our members have spoken and we have listened,” said George Renaudin, Medicare President for Humana. “We have conducted extensive research to ensure that our changes are aligned with consumer wants and needs. This research resulted in investments focused on what consumers want, such as dental coverage, which is consistently a #1 priority in additional benefits for our members.”

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