Half of Latinx, Black Medicare Beneficiaries Choose Medicare Advantage

Fifty-three percent of Latinx and 49% of Black Medicare beneficiaries choose enrollment in Medicare Advantage; seeing average annual savings of $1,113 and $1,270, respectively, compared to Traditional Medicare.

New data released by Better Medicare Alliance, a research and advocacy group supporting Medicare Advantage, shows Medicare Advantage’s continued strength with diverse beneficiary populations.

The study, by ATI Advisory and based on 2018 Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) data finds 53% of Latinx Medicare beneficiaries choose enrollment in Medicare Advantage, as do 49% of Black beneficiaries.

Survey data shows Latinx beneficiaries spend $1,113 less when enrolled in Medicare Advantage compared with Traditional Fee-for-Service (FFS) Medicare, while Black beneficiaries see average savings of $1,270.

In addition, findings depict how Medicare Advantage beneficiaries of all races and ethnicities are more medically complex than those in Traditional FFS Medicare. Between 50-52% of Black, white, and Latinx Medicare Advantage beneficiaries report more than three chronic conditions, compared with 45-48% of Traditional FFS Medicare beneficiaries.

MCBS data also shows that Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are more likely to receive routine care than those enrolled in Traditional FFS Medicare. This includes higher rates of beneficiaries receiving mammograms, flu shots, blood pressure screenings, and cholesterol checks.

“Once again, the research demonstrates that Medicare Advantage is the preferred coverage choice for minority, lower-income, and medically complex beneficiaries – and is delivering meaningful cost savings and more preventive care as compared to Traditional Medicare,” Allyson Y. Schwartz, president and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance, said. “With over 26.5 million beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage today, this report shows that minority beneficiaries are a driving force behind these enrollment gains; turning to Medicare Advantage to meet their health and social needs. When policymakers stand up for Medicare Advantage, they stand up for these seniors, too.”

Additional key findings from the study are below:

  • A Greater Percentage of Individuals Choosing Medicare Advantage are Low Income: Across all racial and ethnic groups, beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage are more likely to be lower-income than Traditional FFS Medicare beneficiaries, according to the data. Among Latinx beneficiaries, 80% enrolled in Medicare Advantage live on less than 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) compared with 63% in Traditional FFS Medicare. Among Black beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage, 77% of individuals live on less than 200% FPL compared with 69% enrolled in Traditional FFS Medicare. 44% of white Medicare Advantage beneficiaries live below 200% FPL, compared to 35% of those enrolled in Traditional FFS Medicare.
  • Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries of All Races and Ethnicities Are More Medically Complex Than Those in Traditional FFS Medicare: Between 50-52% of Black, white, and Latinx Medicare Advantage beneficiaries report more than three chronic conditions, compared with 45-48% of Traditional FFS Medicare beneficiaries.
  • Social Risk Factors Disproportionately Affect Black and Latinx Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries: Black and Latinx Medicare beneficiaries have higher rates of negative social determinants of health (SDOH) markers than white beneficiaries, with those enrolled in Medicare Advantage experiencing the highest rates. Black and Latinx Medicare Advantage beneficiaries report food insecurity 21% and 16% more frequently than Traditional FFS Medicare beneficiaries, respectively.
  • Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries are More Likely to Receive Routine Care: Black and Latinx Medicare Advantage beneficiaries were 12% and 22% more likely than Traditional FFS Medicare beneficiaries to report receiving a mammogram, respectively. Across all races and ethnicities, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries were between 1-3% more likely than Traditional FFS Medicare beneficiaries to report having their blood pressure checked in the prior year, and they were between 2-8% more likely to report having their cholesterol checked. In addition to reporting a higher likelihood of receiving preventive services, Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are also more likely to have a usual source of care.
  • Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries of All Races and Ethnicities Spend Less Out-of-Pocket than Traditional FFS Medicare Beneficiaries: Latinx beneficiaries report spending $1,113 less when enrolled in Medicare Advantage compared with Traditional FFS Medicare, while Black beneficiaries spend $1,270 less.