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Study: Virtually No Competition in Most Medicare Advantage Markets

seniors elderly patients doctors insurance

Heightened competition among private insurance companies offering Medicare plans is seen by some as the key to controlling Medicare spending and providing beneficiaries with coverage that better suits their needs.

But in a new Commonwealth Fund issue brief examining Medicare Advantage markets in more than 2,900 U.S. counties, researchers Brian Biles, Giselle Casillas, and Stuart Guterman find that 97 percent are marked by little to no competition.

“The idea is if there are more insurers, they’ll fight for customers by lowering premiums and improving quality,” says coauthor Guterman, senior scholar in residence at AcademyHealth. “For that to happen, however, we need to have enough insurers in a given market—and this study shows that, overwhelmingly, that isn’t the case.”

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