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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

Jan. 6 committee subpoenas Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell

Rudy Giuliani. Photo: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot released its latest round of subpoenas on Tuesday evening, this time focusing on several of former President Trump's lawyers, including Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and former adviser Boris Epshteyn.

Why it matters: The panel said the four individuals subpoenaed were involved in efforts publicly promote Trump's unfounded claims of election fraud as well as efforts to "disrupt or delay" the certification of the election's results.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. warns Russia may attack Ukraine from Belarus

Belarus dictator AlexPhoto: Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images

The U.S. believes that Russia may use joint military exercises inside Belarus as cover for an invasion of Ukraine from the north, according to a senior State Department official.

Why it matters: New deployments to the Belarus-Ukraine border in the coming weeks — in addition to the 100,000 Russian troops already encircling Ukraine from the north, east and south — could allow Russia to open up a new front less than 100 miles from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

6 hours ago - Health

Government website for free COVID tests launches early

COVID-19 rapid at-home test kits. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

The website where Americans can request free, at-home rapid COVID-19 tests from the government launched Tuesday and is now accepting orders.

Driving the news: The website went live in its beta phase and is operating at a limited capacity a day before its official launch. Every home in the U.S. is eligible for up to four COVID tests, according to the website.