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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Roughly 24.4 million seniors and people with disabilities were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan as of this month, a 9.4% jump from the same time in 2019, according to the latest federal data analyzed by Axios.

Why it matters: Medicare Advantage, which is run by private health insurers, continues to grow at high rates despite concerns over the program's higher spending and evidence that insurers are making people appear sicker than they are.

By the numbers: The 9.4% annual enrollment growth is well above the 6.8% growth rate in 2019, and people flocked to pretty much every insurer selling Medicare Advantage plans this past season — from startups to well-established carriers.

  • UnitedHealth Group boosted its membership by 10% to 6.3 million people, keeping its position as the largest MA company.
  • Humana (4.4 million), CVS Health's Aetna (2.6 million) and Kaiser Permanente (1.7 million) remained among the other large MA plans.

Startups including Devoted Health, Clover Health and Alignment Healthcare still have small MA footprints compared to the traditional insurance carriers, but they recorded sizable enrollment gains for this year.

  • Devoted multiplied its membership by seven times, and is now at 16,000 enrollees.
  • Clover has 54,500 members, a 39% bump from a year ago.
  • Alignment's enrollment spiked 36%, to 61,700 people.

The elephant in the room: The Congressional Budget Office raised new concerns about MA spending in its latest economic outlook.

  • Net Medicare spending this year will be $22 billion higher than CBO originally projected, and "higher spending for Medicare Advantage accounts for most of that difference," CBO said.
  • That higher spending was attributed to higher payment rates and the likelihood that more MA enrollees "will be coded as being in poorer health than the agency previously anticipated," the CBO said.
  • Federal watchdogs have warned about the coding practices of MA plans, and the industry has fought off regulators that want to audit their records more aggressively.

Go deeper: Where Medicare Advantage is most popular

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - World

Netanyahu is out as new Israeli government survives confidence vote

Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty Images

Israel has a new prime minister for the first time since 2009 after a power-sharing government led by Naftali Bennett survived a confidence vote on Sunday. Bennett was sworn in as prime minister.

Why it matters: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's longest-serving prime minister and the man around whom Israeli politics have revolved for a decade, will now become opposition leader. Bennett, a right-wing former Netanyahu protege, will lead the most ideologically diverse government in Israeli history.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Afghanistan, cyber defense on the agenda for Biden in Brussels

Joe Biden arrives at Melsbroek Military Airport in Brussels on June 13. Photo: Yves Herman/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden touched down in Brussels on Sunday evening ahead of two days of talks with NATO and European Union leaders as part of his first foreign trip as president.

Driving the news: Biden was greeted on the tarmac by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and a slate of other officials, including Douglas Jones and Mark Libby, the U.S. Permanent Representatives to NATO and the EU respectively.

Maersk CEO: Global businesses should be wary of politics

Photo: "Axios on HBO"

The CEO of the world's largest container-shipping company cautions that international firms have to be careful of taking political stances.

  • What they're saying: "We cannot run a global business if we start to have views on politics in every single country that we are in," Maersk CEO Søren Skou tells "Axios on HBO."