During the 2019 Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), analysis of the plan selections of people shopping for Medicare coverage through eHealth websites shows an average decline in Medicare Advantage premiums of 42%.
This is according to a new report by eHealth, Inc., a leading private online health insurance exchange where individuals, families and small businesses can compare and purchase health insurance products. The report also shows evidence of lower deductibles and out-of-pocket-limits among the plans selected by beneficiaries who purchased Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, or Medicare Supplement plans through websites operated by eHealth. However, the report also shows that premium costs among beneficiaries purchasing Medicare Supplement products rose by an average 8%.
In addition, the report finds that use of online transparency tools that enable beneficiaries to search for plans accepted by their preferred medical providers and covering their prescription drugs dramatically increased during the AEP for 2019 coverage.
“Managed care executives are essential health plan leaders who supervise the operations of healthcare systems designed to deliver medical services in ways that improve quality and reduce costs,” says Chris Hakim, vice president and general manager of Medicare at eHealth. “With the rapid movement to value-based care, the executives that truly partner with patients in the management of their health will drive the best results. Of note is that Medicare Advantage is growing rapidly and that is connecting Medicare beneficiaries to tools to help them make better health choices in terms of disease management and in choosing cost-effective services with better health outcomes.”
Other report findings include:
- The average premium for Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans selected by eHealth customers decreased 42% between the enrollment periods for 2018 and 2019 coverage, from $19 to $11 per month. Average deductibles decreased 13%, from $150 to $130. Average out-of-pocket limits decreased 3%, from $5,589 to $5,415.
- As availability of Medicare Advantage plans with $0 monthly premiums increased, beneficiaries living in 70% of counties in 37 states served by eHealth had access to a $0 Medicare Advantage plan for 2019. The share of $0 premium plans selected by Medicare Advantage and Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug customers increased from 62% to 74% at eHealth between the AEP for 2018 and 2019 coverage.
- Medicare Supplement plans were the only product that showed an increase in average premiums, rising by 8%, between the 2018 and 2019 AEPs (from $141 to $152 per month).
- Thirty percent of people buying Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans and 24% purchasing Medicare Part D plans used eHealth’s prescription drug coverage comparison tool during the 2019 AEP. The share of customers using eHealth’s provider lookup tool rose from 5% to 47% between the 2018 and 2019 AEPs.
Online transparency tools are becoming more powerful and easier to use, according to Hakim.
“The fact that more Medicare eligible people are buying plans online and using drug transparency tools underscore that when user-friendly technology tools are made available, seniors are increasingly inclined to use them,” says Hakim. “When coupled with the fact that there are 10,000 people becoming Medicare eligible each day—and that ‘younger’ seniors are more tech savvy—it opens the door for more effective, less-expensive communications with Medicare beneficiaries. The tools will only get better as companies are investing more and more in technology.”