Medicare Spending Growth Slows, But 2011 A Profitable Year For Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare spending growth is slowing, even as enrollment rises, The Washington Post reports. Meanwhile, several large Medicare Advantage plans turned a mighty profit in 2011, despite the volatility of the larger economy.
The Washington Post: Medicare Spending Growth Rising Slower But Enrollment Will Rise
But in early 2010, the number crunchers at Medicare headquarters in Baltimore saw something surprising: a sharp drop in the volume of doctor visits and other outpatient services. Instead of growing at the usual 4 percent a year, the number of claims was suddenly climbing by less than 2 percent. ... Medicare spending per person is rising more slowly than spending in the private health sector. And, because of the cuts that were part of last year's Affordable Care Act, it is expected to mirror overall growth in the economy for much of the next decade, staying well below targets set by Congress (Montgomery, 12/22).
CNN Money: Medicare Passes On Big Profits To Insurers
This has been a volatile year for the stock market. But one sector has been consistently earning a windfall for investors: health insurers that provide private Medicare plans to seniors. Among the top-performing Fortune 500 stocks of 2011, three — WellCare Health Plans, Humana, and Centene — were health insurers with a high proportion of Medicare Advantage enrollees. WellCare's share price has nearly doubled while Humana and Centene are up about 50 percent. UnitedHealth Group (UHC) and Aetna, each with significant shares of Medicare Advantage patients, also inked gains of more than 35 percent in 2011 (Farrell, 12/22).