man in wheelchair at table

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans may be growing at a faster pace than some experts anticipated. A new Medicare Enrollment Map unveiled earlier this week from the Better Medicare Alliance, which advocates on behalf of MA, found the plans now cover more than 50% of Medicare beneficiaries in 123 congressional districts.

That compares to 90 districts last year. It is also more than the 45% estimated by long-term care advisory firm ATI Advisory for MA plan coverage in the United States.

The findings could be significant as American voters head to the polls this fall for midterm congressional elections, the alliance funded by major health insurance companies asserted. The alliance found that Democratic districts are leading the growth in MA plans.

With polling showing that 92% of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries believe a candidate’s support for MA is important to earning their vote, lawmakers have a powerful incentive to continue standing up for the health coverage their constituents choose and deserve,” Kenneth Thorpe, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and Chair of the Better Medicare Alliance Board of Director, said in a statement. 

States with MA enrollment in excess of 50% include Alabama, Michigan, Florida, Hawaii, Connecticut, Maine and Oregon. Georgia, Minnesota and Louisiana come close to the mark, with MA enrollment at 49%. The alliance found 31 other states have enrollment topping 40%. 

MA plans have been gaining in popularity with seniors because the policies tend to be less expensive than traditional Medicare fee-for-service plans. Many MA plans also offer a variety of supplemental benefits including home care, meals, transportation and handyman services. 

But despite their popularity, the plans have been coming under increased scrutiny. In April, the Office of Inspector General issued a scathing report, accusing MA plans of delaying or denying services to beneficiaries that are covered under Medicare rules. Also in April, 20 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure expressing concern about overpayment to MA plans which they said “line the pockets of big insurance companies.”