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Rapid Enrollment Growth In 'Look-Alike' Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans: A Threat To Integrated Care.

Ma Y, Frakt AB, Roberts ET, Johnston KJ, Phelan J, Figueroa JF. Rapid Enrollment Growth In 'Look-Alike' Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans: A Threat To Integrated Care. Health affairs (Project Hope). 2023 Jul 1; 42(7):919-927.

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Policy makers are increasingly investing in efforts to better integrate Medicare and Medicaid services for people who are eligible for both programs, including expanding Dual-Eligible Special Needs Plans (D-SNPs). In recent years, however, a potential threat to integration has emerged in the form of D-SNP "look-alike" plans, which are conventional Medicare Advantage plans that are marketed toward and primarily enroll dual eligibles but are not subject to federal regulations requiring integrated Medicaid services. To date, limited evidence exists documenting national enrollment trends in look-alike plans or the characteristics of dual eligibles in these plans. We found that look-alike plans experienced rapid enrollment growth among dual eligibles during the period 2013-20, increasing from 20,900 dual eligibles across four states to 220,860 dual eligibles across seventeen states, for an elevenfold increase. Nearly one-third of dual eligibles in look-alike plans were previously in integrated care programs. Compared with D-SNPs, look-alike plans were more likely to enroll dual eligibles who were older, Hispanic, and from disadvantaged communities. Our findings suggest that look-alike plans have the potential to compromise national efforts to integrate care delivery for dual eligibles, including vulnerable subgroups who may benefit the most from integrated coverage.

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