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Oklahomans’ Choices of Medicare Advantage Plans Improve Slightly in 2018 But Disparity of Choice Remains in Rural Areas

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On the eve of open enrollment, rural Oklahomans will see a slight increase in Medicare Advantage (MA) insurance carriers per county in 2018, but disparities of choice remain between rural and urban areas.

Data released in September by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show the average number of insurance carriers offering MA plans within Oklahoma counties has slightly improved but with a reduction in counties served by BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS).  In 2017, as many as 29 counties had only one carrier of MA plans from which to choose.  In 2018, that number shrank to 25.  The data also shows the disparity between rural areas and urban areas when choosing between MA plans.  Tulsa, Oklahoma, Muskogee, Logan, Lincoln, Creek, Cleveland and Canadian counties in 2018 will have four or more MA carriers from which to choose.  In contrast,  13 counties will have three potential insurance carriers and 26 counties will have two potential MA carriers.

The number of MA carriers serving Oklahoma counties remained constant, with six companies (and their affiliates) marketing MA plans.

MA plans are also known as Part C or Advantage plans and serve as a substitute to Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B).  Some Medicare Advantage plans also have supplemental services otherwise not covered by Original Medicare.  Some Medicare Advantage plans also have prescription drug plans as part of the plans.

While BCBS has reduced the number of counties in which it sells MA plans, other carriers in 2018 have increased their geographic footprint.

  • BCBS will market MA plans in 8 counties (a reduction from 17 counties served in 2017);
  • CommunityCare will market MA plans in 8 counties (an increase from 7 served in 2017);
  • Coventry Health (an Aetna affiliate) will market MA plans in 27 counties (an increase from 10 in 2017);
  • GlobalHealth will market MA plans in 44 counties (no change from 44 in 2017);
  • Humana will market MA plans in all 77 counties (no change from 77 in 2017); and
  • UnitedHealthcare will market MA plans in 14 counties (no change from 14 counties in 2017).

Counties with only one MA carrier include:  Atoka, Beaver, Beckham, Bryan, Choctaw, Cimarron, Coal, Comanche, Custer, Ellis, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Jackson, Johnston, Love, Marshall, McCurtain, Murray, Payne, Roger Mills, Stephens, Texas, Washita, and Woodward counties.

Counties with two MA carriers include:  Alfalfa, Blaine, Caddo, Carter, Cotton, Delaware, Dewey, Grant, Haskell, Hughes, Jefferson, Kay, Kiowa, Latimer, Le Flore, Major, Noble, Okfuskee, Ottawa, Pawnee, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Sequoyah, Tillman, Washington, and Woods counties.

Counties with three MA carriers include: 0 Adair, Cherokee, Craig, Garfield, Garvin, Kingfisher, Mayes, McClain, McIntosh, Nowata, Pittsburg, Rogers, and Seminole counties.

Counties with four MA carriers include:  Grady, Okmulgee, and Wagoner counties.

Counties with five MA carriers include:  Canadian, Cleveland, Creek, Lincoln, Logan, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Osage, Pottawatomie,  and Tulsa counties.

For a full list of MA carriers and plans per county, please see Medicare’s List of Oklahoma MA Carriers and Plans.

SLN Sources:  CMS Data Source Files.  Data excludes Special Needs Plans, Part B Only Plans, and Employer sponsored plans (800 series).