- The five largest managed care organizations all grew their Medicare Advantage membership in August, consistent with trends as the privately-managed Medicare plans grow in offerings and popularity among beneficiaries. The short-term growth of UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Aetna, Anthem and Cigna outpaced other competitors in the space, according to RBC Capital Markets.
- Anthem had the highest percentage growth in August (up 1% or roughly 12,000 members) while Humana and UnitedHealthcare had the strongest gains numerically, with Humana picking up almost 22,500 members and UnitedHealthcare up almost 22,000.
- Overall MA membership increased 0.4% month-over-month, with the big five insurers gaining 0.5% as a group and the rest of the industry gaining 0.3%.
Despite reports Medicare Advantage is failing to produce savings for taxpayers, big payers continue to snap up market share in MA. Between 2012 and 2018, the program more than doubled to almost 20 million Americans as more seniors age into Medicare and are tempted by MA's more expansive benefits.
Healthcare giant CVS Health, through its recent acquisition of Hartford, Connecticut-based payer Aetna, grew its MA members 0.7% month-over-month, netting 15,349 beneficiaries. And, despite being the smallest MA player in the cadre, Cigna also saw a slight 0.2% bump in MA membership in the month, adding 892 new members.
MA yields healthy profit margins for payers, with an average gross margin double that of the individual and group markets. The plans contributed to positive second quarter results from the big five players, with CVS, United Health, Cigna, Anthem and Humana all beating Wall Street estimates for the fiscal period ending June 30.
The trend highlighted by Wednesday's report from RBC Capital Markets holds up year-over-year as well. Since August 2018, MA enrollment has grown 7.5% across the industry, adding 1.62 million Americans to the privately-managed public plans. The big five companies saw growth almost double that figure (14.6%) over the same time frame, though other insurers saw a small decline in their MA rolls.
CVS had the strongest growth since 2018, expanding over 30% to 2.31 million MA beneficiaries, followed by Anthem (almost 20% year-over-year growth to 1.18 million), Humana (14.2% growth to 4.05 million) and Cigna (2% growth to 443,000 lives).
Though UnitedHealthcare reported a relatively modest 9.7% growth since 2018, it remains the undisputed MA market leader overall, with almost six million covered lives.