Government issues Medicare Advantage guidelines

Reuters  | Fri Feb 17, 2012 6:49pm EST.

(Reuters) – The Obama administration on Friday issued 2013 payment and policy guidelines for U.S. health insurers that participate in the Medicare Advantage program, saying the proposed changes would bring lower premiums and stable or improved benefits.

But the documents did not include an official preliminary estimate for the net average percentage change in reimbursements, leaving insurers and financial markets in the dark about the guidelines’ potential impact on the industry.

Analysts said unofficial estimates suggested a possible all-in gain of 2.3 percent, far better than market expectations that had ranged from no change to a decline of 5 percent.

A year ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services estimated a 1.6 percent net all-in rise for 2012 but later reduced that to 0.4 percent.

CMS, which oversees the federal healthcare program for the elderly, said on Friday that the 2013 guidelines point to an overall annual growth rate of 2.47 percent and a 2.3 percent per capita growth rate next year. But those figures do not take into account variables such as geographic location. Read Full Article