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Expand chart
Data: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Almost 22.4 million seniors and people with disabilities are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans for 2019 — up 6.8% from the same point last year, according to preliminary federal data.

Why it matters: The growing enrollment total is in line with what the Trump administration expected and continues a decade-long trend of moving more of the traditional Medicare program into a privatized version run by health insurers.

Winners: Most insurers are winners to some degree, considering MA is "a friendly environment" right now for the industry. And the biggest companies are getting even bigger.

By the numbers: Together, three companies control more than half of the MA market.

  • UnitedHealth Group: 5.7 million enrollees, up 9%
  • Humana: 3.9 million, up 11%
  • Aetna (now owned by CVS Health): 2.1 million, up 23%

The big picture: The federal government is expected to pay MA insurers $250 billion this year. With profit margins hovering around 4% or higher for many companies, that equals billions of dollars of profit.

Yes, but: Federal prosecutors and auditors are scrutinizing the coding practices of MA insurers and may be willing to claw back overpayments soon.

What's next: February's enrollment data will provide an even clearer picture of how much the Medicare Advantage program grew for this year.

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
44 mins ago - Health

The end of quarantine

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Long quarantines were a necessary tool to slow the COVID-19 pandemic during its first phases, but better and faster tests — plus vaccines — mean they can be scaled back considerably.

Why it matters: Quick tests and regular surveillance methods that identify who is actually infectious can take the place of the two-week or longer isolation periods that have been common for travelers and people who might have been exposed to the virus, speeding the safe reopening of schools and workplaces.

Amazon rollups are the hottest deals

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new generation of companies is forming to scoop up Amazon marketplace sellers — and venture capital firms are writing big checks to support the effort.

Why it matters: These e-commerce aggregators are all about data and using it to optimize and turbocharge sales, which means they’re using Amazon’s own playbook.

Trump Justice Department obtained phone records of WashPost reporters

Photo: Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Former President Trump's Justice Department in 2017 secretly obtained the phone records of three Washington Post reporters, the newspaper revealed Friday.

Between the lines: The reporters — Ellen Nakashima, Greg Miller and Adam Entous — at the time were looking into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.