UnitedHealth Group and Humana enroll more Medicare Advantage members than any other insurers, and it really isn't that close, according to the latest government data.
More than 16.6 million people had a Medicare Advantage plan as of Dec. 1. Medicare's open-enrollment period ended Dec. 7, so that figure is likely to be even larger once the CMS releases its next monthly enrollment report.
The private Medicare program has been a boon for insurers the past several years, offering sizable
volumes and steady profit margins. Some companies have said the growth in Medicare Advantage, spurred in part by the aging baby boomer population, will be fundamentally important to earnings growth in 2015 and beyond.
That's especially the case for UnitedHealth and Humana. UnitedHealth, headquartered in Minnetonka, Minn., has more than 3.2 million Medicare enrollees, while Louisville, Ky.-based Humana has 2.9 million, according to a Barclays Research analysis of the data. Combined, those two publicly traded insurers control 37% of the Medicare Advantage market.
Kaiser Permanente, based in Oakland, Calif., sits well behind in third with about 1.3 million Medicare members. The only other insurer that covers more than 1 million Medicare Advantage lives is Aetna, which has a little less than 1.2 million enrollees. Together, the top four insurers cover more than half the market.
So what are the other largest Medicare Advantage plans? Anthem, Cigna Corp., WellCare Health Plans, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, Highmark and Health Net round out the top 10.
However, it is worth noting that Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans (excluding Anthem, formerly known as WellPoint) cover a combined 2.1 million Medicare members, the Barclays analysis shows.
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