Does Medicare Advantage Lower Costs for People with Chronic Illness?

Medicare Advantage plans

When confronting the alphabet soup of Medicare options, many people wonder if they should elect to purchase Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. Research now shows that chronically ill Medicare Advantage beneficiaries experience better quality of care than with typical fee-for-service Medicare (FFS) plans.

Medicare Advantage is a popular add-on for many recipients. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Medicare Advantage plans serve one-third of the 60 million beneficiaries on Medicare, and the number is expected to grow.

Medicare Advantage Plans Study

A new study by Avalere Health, a research firm, concludes that for chronically ill individuals, Medicare Advantage plans are better than FFS Medicare in terms of higher rates of preventive care, fewer avoidable hospitalizations and fewer visits to the emergency room. In the study, MA beneficiaries had 23% fewer inpatient stays and 33% fewer emergency room visits.

The best outcomes and lower costs for MA beneficiaries with chronic conditions were found with dual eligible MA. Dual eligible refers to patients who have Medicare Advantage as well as Medicaid.

Improving Medicare

The Chronic Care Act of 2018 was signed into law with the new federal budget and will go into effect in 2020. Most of the new benefits will only be offered with Medicare Advantage plans. Plans will be provided based on beneficiaries’ specific conditions including diabetes, heart failure, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and some cancer types.

The new law addresses the social factors that influence health and the fact that long-term illnesses often lead to additional health issues. Under the act, more chronically ill seniors will be able to receive care at home. This enables seniors to remain independent and out of the hospital longer. It is believed that by providing both social and medical services, will also save money for Medicare.

Besides direct medical services, Medicare will now provide eligible beneficiaries social services, wheelchair ramps and other home improvements, home delivery of hot meals and transportation to doctor’s appointments. The Chronic Care Act establishes incentives for health care providers to use of telehealth services.

Medicare Advantage Plans by the Number

Medicare Advantage beneficiaries now stand to receive more care through preventive care tests and services. Able to offer improved and additional benefits, Medicare Advantage plans are projected to grow even more popular, with enrollment expected to rise from today’s 20 million enrollees to more than 30 million by the start of 2028.

Find out more about Medicare Advantage plans and compare Medicare quotes provided on

About Barbara Howington

In a 40-year career that began as editor for a college public affairs department, Barbara has been an instructional media script writer, public relations director, marketing manager, account manager, and co-owner of a graphic design, marketing and public relations firm. For the past several years, she has funneled her knowledge and insight into copywriting, her favorite part of every professional position she’s held.