With negotiations, the plans improved their benefits by about 5% (or about $13 per member per month) on average. However, seven Medicare plans offered by three insurers declined to change their bids, and CMS denied those bids, Blum said.
Aside from the new healthcare reform bill giving CMS officials new power to negotiate, CMS now can take steps to:
The projected increase in Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will occur a year before Medicare will freeze payments to the plans, as stipulated under the new healthcare reform legislation. Blum attributed the increased membership to insurers providing "better value for beneficiaries."
However, even with lower costs, all beneficiaries should review their current health and drug plans coverage and shop around for what's available and meets their needs for next year, said Blum, who is also director of CMS' Center for Medicare. The new enrollment period is open from Oct. 1 through Nov. 15.