A 9% increase in the number of Medicare beneficiaries who enrolled last year clearly shows effects of the pandemic and economy on American society.
36% of the 67.7 million Medicare beneficiaries in the US are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan this year, based on preliminary open enrollment data collected from October to December, 2020.
In order to determine the reason why the new enrollees chose the MA plan, MedicareAdvantagePlans.org polled the new Medicare beneficiaries in a new study.
Their chosen plan, known as Medicare Part C, have become more popular recently as it is cost-effective, flexible and include Part D prescription drug coverage.
Here’s the breakdown for the reasons behind choosing the MA Plan:
- 29% for prescription drug coverage
- 16% for its affordability
- 9% for supplemental benefits
The 9% expressed telehealth benefits and COVID-19 supplemental benefits. MA plans are accommodating virtual care, with more than 94% offering telehealth benefits compared to the 58% that it was before.
“Supplemental benefits have become such an important selling point for MA plans that there will be a 64% year-over-year increase in the number of MA plans that are offering such benefits in 2021,” noted MedicareAdvantagePlans.org. “And as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, 34% of Medicare Advantage plans are now offering COVID-19-related supplemental benefits in 2021, which includes covering costs for things like testing, personal protective equipment, and care packages.”
The Congressional Budget Office says 51% of all Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled in a MA plan by 2030.
As authors note, 65% of respondents who chose to enroll in a MA plan had first compared all available coverage options, with a further 26% saying they did a brief amount of research before enrolling.
However, to contradict this, The New York Times found that 57% of Medicare enrollees do not review or compare their coverage annually, including 46% who never or hardly revisit their plans. The researchers point out the detrimental effect of their lack-of-interest.
“This isn’t great news when you think about all the consumers out there that are possibly missing out on MA benefits because they either don’t know what they are or understand how it could be better (or more cost-effective) for them.”
In 2021, average premiums for MA plans are expected to reduce by 34.2% from 2017, marking the lowest average monthly premiums since 2007.