Consumer Interest in Medicare Advantage Plans Remains High

May 31, 2019

A new report shows that the new open enrollment rules are leading to increased Medicare Advantage uptake.

A new report from eHealth shows that there is still significant consumer interest in Medicare Advantage plans.

eHealth, an online health insurance exchange that allows members to compare insurance plans, recently surveyed 579 individuals who purchased a Medicare insurance plan through their website during the new open enrollment period for Medicare Advantage plans.

According to Chris Hakim, senior vice president and general manager, Medicare for eHealth, the study was conducted to analyze the recently reintroduced and updated open enrollment period. That period, was discontinued in 2011, but was rebirthed this year and went from January 1 to March 31. Under the new system, members are allowed to change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another if their previous plan didn’t satisfy their coverage needs.

Overall, eHealth received 87% more Medicare Advantage and Part D plan applications than the previous year.

“Our report illustrates strong consumer interest in Medicare Advantage and Part D plans at eHealth, despite the fact that relatively few consumers were aware of the new open enrollment period, which wasn’t broadly publicized,” says Hakim.

Related: Medicare Advantage Members Spend Less Than Traditional Medicare Members

Of the enrollees surveyed by eHealth, half (51%) were previously unaware of the open enrollment period.

The report also shows a decrease in Medicare Advantage plan premiums. Average monthly premiums dropped by 33% between 2018 and 2019, from $12 to $8. Out-of-pocket limits also decreased by an average of 11%.

Enrollees also gave their rationale for switching plans. About half of the switches were due to unhappiness with a previous insurer, costs, or provider network. Twenty-two percent said they were dissatisfied with their former insurance company, while 12% switched because they said their preferred doctor was now out of network.

“Our report illustrates continued strong consumer interest in Medicare Advantage plans,” says Hakim. “These plans are receiving additional support from government in an increasingly innovative and competitive market, and are expected to become a bigger part of the total Medicare landscape in the United States.”

Nicholas Hamm is an editor with Managed Healthcare Executive