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Expand chart
Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

More than 3 million people are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan that is owned by a hospital system or physician group, which is up more than 20% from 2015, according to an Axios analysis of federal data.

What it means: Seniors are increasingly choosing Medicare Advantage instead of traditional Medicare, and hospitals want a piece of those Medicare Advantage dollars as their other revenues stagnate or grow slowly.

Context: Seniors often switch to Medicare Advantage plans for perks like gym membership or vision coverage, in exchange for agreeing to a more limited network of hospitals and doctors.

The details: We tracked Medicare Advantage enrollment growth for 43 hospital systems and physician groups from 2015 to 2018 using data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Here's what we found:

  • More than 3 million people have a Medicare Advantage plan owned by a hospital or doctor system as of January 2018, compared with 2.5 million in 2015.
  • Kaiser Permanente, the dominant provider and insurance system on the West Coast and in the Mid-Atlantic, covers more than half (almost 1.6 million) of that total.
  • The 10 systems with the most Medicare Advantage members represent a vast majority (84%) of the enrollment in provider-owned plans.

Yes, but: The 3 million people in provider plans only represent about 1 out of 7 Medicare Advantage enrollees. And the 20% growth rate for those plans was actually slower than the 24% enrollment uptick for the overall Medicare Advantage program over the same period.

  • This means most people are still buying Medicare Advantage plans from the big for-profit players like UnitedHealth Group, Humana and Aetna.
  • But health care is local. The prevalence of provider-owned Medicare plans indicates hospitals and doctors with strong brands continue to attract people who otherwise would go to a large insurance company — leading to new revenue and profit.

Go deeper: The shift in Medicare spending.

Go deeper

Biden signs racial equity executive orders

Joe Biden prays at Grace Lutheran Church in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on September 3, 2020, in the aftermath of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. PHOTO: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed executive orders on housing and ending the Justice Department's use of private prisons as part of what the White House is calling his “racial equity agenda.”

The big picture: Biden needs the support of Congress to push through police reform or new voting rights legislation. The executive orders serve as his down payment to immediately address systemic racism while he focuses on the pandemic.

Senate confirms Antony Blinken as secretary of state

Antony Blinken. Photo: Alex Edelman/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted 78-22 on Tuesday to confirm Antony Blinken as secretary of state.

Why it matters: Blinken, a longtime adviser to President Biden, will lead the administration's diplomatic efforts to re-engage with the world after four years of former President Trump's "America first" policy.

2 hours ago - World

Former Google CEO and others call for U.S.-China tech "bifurcation"

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new set of proposals by a group of influential D.C. insiders and tech industry practitioners calling for a degree of "bifurcation" in the U.S. and Chinese tech sectors is circulating in the Biden administration. Axios has obtained a copy.

Why it matters: The idea of "decoupling" certain sectors of the U.S. and Chinese economies felt radical three years ago, when Trump's trade war brought the term into common parlance. But now the strategy has growing bipartisan and even industry support.