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Word on the Street About Benefit and Plan Design Strategies on 4Q23 Earnings

What are People Saying About Benefit and Plan Design Strategies on 4Q24 Earnings


In the ever-evolving landscape of Medicare Advantage (MA), companies are continuously adapting their benefit and plan designs to navigate regulatory changes, manage costs, and maintain competitiveness. Recent earnings calls from major players like CVS (Aetna), Humana, UnitedHealth, and Elevance Health have shed light on these adaptations, especially concerning the strategic adjustments for plan year 2024. There’s particular interest in discussions around the cost of additional benefits and how these strategies reflect broader industry trends and challenges.

Performance Overview

  • CVS/Aetna has been at the center of discussions, particularly regarding its approach to supplemental benefits for 2024. CVS has fully accounted for the costs of these benefits, including full utilization of flex cards and pressures from dental and vision benefits, ensuring a comprehensive reflection in their 2024 guide. Looking ahead to 2025, CVS anticipates the need for benefit reductions due to rate pressures, aiming for a quick recovery to targeted margins of 4% to 5%, indicating a forward-thinking yet cautious approach to benefit design and cost management.
  • Elevance Health highlighted strategic actions to ensure product sustainability in their 2024 bid strategy, leading to greater-than-expected attrition in some markets but aiming for flat MA membership organically with improved earnings. Their investment in Medicare is focused on enhancing star quality ratings and driving profitable growth, acknowledging the Medicare Advantage market’s competitive nature despite challenging funding environments.
  • Humana and UnitedHealth also contributed to the discourse, underscoring adjustments in benefit designs in response to regulatory and market pressures. Humana’s discussion points included the impact of model changes on benefits and the industry-wide trend towards more cautious benefit investments. UnitedHealth’s commentary reinforced the theme of strategic benefit stability for members, emphasizing the importance of thoughtful planning and operational efficiency.

Business Operations Insight

The adjustments in plan designs reflect a broader industry imperative to balance member needs with financial sustainability. Companies are navigating a fine line between offering competitive benefits that attract and retain members and managing the financial implications of those benefits amidst changing regulatory landscapes and market dynamics.

Investment Philosophy

The strategic decisions around benefit and plan design highlight a commitment to long-term value investing, focusing on investments that improve member satisfaction and health outcomes while ensuring the financial health of the plans. This philosophy underpins the companies’ efforts to innovate in benefit offerings while adapting to external pressures.

Market Insights

The discussions around benefit and plan design adjustments for 2024 offer insights into the broader market and economic environment influencing the Medicare Advantage sector. Companies are grappling with rate pressures, changing regulatory requirements, and a competitive landscape that demands strategic agility and foresight in plan management.

Future Outlook

Looking ahead, the industry’s focus will likely continue to be on balancing innovative benefit designs with cost management strategies to navigate the complex Medicare Advantage market. The strategic adjustments made for 2024 serve as critical indicators of how companies are positioning themselves for sustainable growth and profitability in a sector marked by rapid evolution and intense competition.


The strategic approaches to benefit and plan design for the 2024 plan year underscore the complex interplay between regulatory compliance, market competitiveness, and financial sustainability in the Medicare Advantage sector. As companies like CVS/Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealth, and Elevance Health navigate these challenges, their strategies provide valuable lessons on adaptability, strategic planning, and the importance of a long-term view in ensuring the success and sustainability of Medicare Advantage offerings.