AEP is almost here!  This week, we have several updates on the Medicare Advantage market:

Medicare Advantage:  How Robust Are Plans’ Physician Networks? | Kaiser Family Foundation | October 5, 2017

One of the biggest trade-offs between Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare is that Medicare Advantage plans have a more limited network of doctors and other providers. The size and breadth of provider networks can be an important factor for beneficiaries when choosing between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage, and among Medicare Advantage plans. As of 2017, 19 million of the 58 million people on Medicare (33%) are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, yet little is known about their provider networks.

This report is the first known study to examine the size and composition of Medicare Advantage plans’ physician networks. This analysis draws upon data from 391 plans, offered by 55 insurers in 20 counties, and accounted for 14% of all Medicare Advantage enrollees nationwide in 2015.

Read the full article on here.

Despite Boost In Social Security, Rising Medicare Part B Costs Leave Seniors In Bind | Kaiser Health News | October 5, 2017

Millions of seniors will soon be notified that Medicare premiums for physicians’ services are rising and likely to consume most of the cost-of-living adjustment they’ll receive next year from Social Security.

Higher 2018 premiums for Medicare Part B will hit older adults who’ve been shielded from significant cost increases for several years, including large numbers of low-income individuals who struggle to make ends meet.

See the full article on here.

Medicare Advantage star rating show little change | HealthcareDive | October 11, 2017

  • The CMS released star ratings for Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D prescription drug plans Wednesday that showed a dip in the number of top-ranking plans.
  • The number of MA enrollees in plans with four or more stars, however, has increased to about 73% from last year’s 69%.

Insurers strive for high ratings to entice more enrollees and for the potential financial rewards. Top-rated plans (those with four or five stars) get a 5% quality bonus. For 2018, the number of plans receiving that bonus is 44%, down from 49% in 2017.

Read the summary on here.

Amazon Is Headed for the Prescription-Drug Market, Analysts Say | Bloomberg | October 6, 2017 Inc. is almost certain to enter the business of selling prescription drugs by 2019, said two analysts at Leerink Partners, posing a direct threat to the U.S.’s biggest brick-and-mortar drugstore chains.

“It’s a matter of when, not if,” Leerink Partners analyst David Larsen said in a report to clients late Thursday. “We expect an announcement within the next 1-2 years.”