Center Forward “Basics”: Medicare Advantage – Medicare’s “private option”

From the Center Forward "Basics" series


For more than thirty years, seniors eligible for Medicare have had the option to receive their benefits through private health insurance plans instead of through traditional “fee for service” Medicare. This private option, now known as Medicare Advantage, covers nearly 30 percent of seniors nationwide, including more than four in ten seniors in some states. Despite the program’s longevity, the role of private plans within Medicare is still a source of debate. Of particular concern: maintaining the right balance between access and funding.


What’s the history of Medicare Advantage?

How many seniors use the program?

How does Medicare Advantage stack up against traditional Medicare?

Why is there debate?