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Since 2010, 150 rural hospitals have closed in the United States. Hospital leaders say that Medicare Advantage pays slowly and sometimes not at all and that this could push more hospitals to the brink. Mint Images/Getty Images/Mint Images RF hide caption

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Mint Images/Getty Images/Mint Images RF

Medicare Advantage keeps growing. Tiny, rural hospitals say that's a huge problem

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Open enrollment for Medicare begins Sunday and ads like this billboard inside California's John Wayne Airport are popping up. Marketing of Medicare plans is subject to new, stricter federal regulations this year. Leslie Walker/Tradeoffs hide caption

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Leslie Walker/Tradeoffs

Medicare Advantage health plans have enrolled nearly 27 million members, or about 45% of people eligible for Medicare. A recent analysis finds Medicare overpaid the private health plans by more than $106 billion from 2010 through 2019 because of the way the plans charge for sicker patients. Innocenti/Image Source/Getty Images hide caption

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Innocenti/Image Source/Getty Images

A civil suit filed by the Justice Department this week links exaggerated patient bills to tens of millions of dollars in overcharges by Medicare Advantage plans. A data analytics team facilitated the fraud, the lawsuit alleges. John Lund/Getty Images hide caption

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John Lund/Getty Images

Medicare Advantage, a fast-growing private alternative to original Medicare, has enrolled more than 26 million people. Humana Inc. is one of the largest of these insurers. While popular with seniors, Medicare Advantage has been the target of multiple government investigations. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

While prescriptions for durable medical equipment, such as orthotic braces or wheelchairs, have long been a staple of Medicare fraud schemes, some alleged scammers are now using telemedicine and unscrupulous health providers to prescribe unneeded equipment to distant patients. Joelle Sedlmeyer/Getty Images hide caption

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Joelle Sedlmeyer/Getty Images

Medicare Advantage health plans, mostly run by private insurance companies, have enrolled more than 22 million seniors and people with disabilities — more than 1 in 3 people who are on some sort of Medicare plan. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

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Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

The same steep growth and use of big data that attracted venture capital cash to companies that administer Medicare Advantage plans have led to scrutiny of the companies by government officials. Federal audits estimate such plans nationwide have overcharged taxpayers nearly $10 billion annually. 123light/Getty Images hide caption

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123light/Getty Images

Medicare Advantage plans, administered by private insurance companies under contract with Medicare, treat more than 22 million seniors — more than 1 in 3 people on Medicare. Roy Scott/Ikon Images/Getty Images hide caption

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Roy Scott/Ikon Images/Getty Images

A business decision by UnitedHealthcare, the nation's largest health insurance carrier, to drop a popular fitness benefit has upset many people covered by the company's Medicare plans. Mladen Zivkovic/Getty Images hide caption

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Mladen Zivkovic/Getty Images

Services like rides to the doctor or wheelchair ramps are among those that some Medicare Advantage plans will begin to offer next year. Razvan Chisu / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm hide caption

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Razvan Chisu / EyeEm/Getty Images/EyeEm

Health insurers who offer Medicare Advantage plans have permission to soon require patients to try less expensive alternatives to some before receiving pricier drugs. Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images hide caption

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Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

Leon Beers, a retired railroad engineer who lives near Sacramento, Calif., has a form of Parkinson's disease. His live-in caregiver, Timothy Wehe, helps him get outside using a walker. Bert Johnson for KHN hide caption

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Bert Johnson for KHN

A GAO report questions the quality of a number of Medicare Advantage plans after large numbers of sicker enrollees dropped them. Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images hide caption

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Yellow Dog Productions/Getty Images

A whistleblower lawsuit alleged that two Florida insurance plans inflated fees by making patients appear sicker than they were. Getty Images hide caption

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Getty Images

A Medicare Advantage plan run by Independence Blue Cross, headquartered in Philadelphia, was among those audited for overcharging by the federal government. Matt Rourke/AP hide caption

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Matt Rourke/AP