Table of Contents:

  1. Coverage for More Americans
  2. Lower Premiums
  3. More Plans to Choose From
  4. Additional Benefits

CMS expected a record number of Americans to enroll in Medicare Advantage for 2021. Here are a few of the changes those nearly 27 million beneficiaries can expect.

Coverage for More Americans

Historically, most individuals with preexisting End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) were barred by law from enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan. That’s changed for 2021 thanks to the 21st Century Cures Act. Hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries now have access to Medicare Advantage for the first time and CMS expected more than 80,000 to enroll.

Lower Premiums

On September 24th, 2020, CMS issued a press release to announce its estimates for Medicare Advantage costs in 2021. The average premium of $21/month would be the lowest in 17 years, reflecting decreases seen in Medicare Advantage premiums since 2017, some of which dropped by as much as 50%. Many plans also offer new cost sharing models to beneficiaries with certain conditions like diabetes and congestive heart failure.

More Plans to Choose From

A new year means a wider variety of Medicare Advantage plans. The selection of plans has been growing rapidly over the last several years in particular. CMS notes that providers are offering 76.6% more plans than they were in 2017. Though availability still varies from county to county, Americans in every state will have a greater number of plans to choose from than they did in 2020. Residents of an average county can now choose from 47 Medicare Advantage options. Availability in rural counties is increasing too, with 18% more plans available than in 2020.

Additional Benefits

As part of the federal government’s ongoing COVID-19 response, 98% of Medicare Advantage plans will offer coverage for telehealth services in 2021. Nearly 21 million beneficiaries will have access to cardiology, psychiatry, primary care, and other essential services from the safety and comfort of their homes. 

Hundreds of Medicare Advantage plans have added new benefits as well. Here are some of the supplemental benefits that local providers may be offering in your area:

  • Adult day care services
  • At-home support services (including pest control and cleaning services) for patients with certain chronic conditions 
  • At-home palliative care
  • Caregiver services
  • Massage therapy 
  • Meal delivery services
  • Transportation support


Information adapted from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Additional data and cost information adapted from the Kaiser Family Foundation

Medicare Advantage 2021 Spotlight: First Look, 2020. KFF.