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Seniors more likely to switch Medicare Advantage plans in 2019, survey shows

Low out-of-pocket costs, prescription drug coverage and in-network access to providers were some of the factors.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Today's seniors are increasingly tech savvy, expect more from Medicare plans and in 2019 are more likely to switch their Medicare Advantage plans, finds a new survey from Welltok.

With more than 60 million Americans projected to be covered by Medicare by 2020, it is critical for plans to understand and meet members' individual needs in a meaningful way to attract, retain and better manage the growing market.

IMPACT

Nearly six in 10 seniors said they would consider switching their current Medicare Advantage plan in the near future. Low out-of-pocket costs, prescription drug coverage and in-network access to providers were cited as primary factors that could influence a plan change.

Seniors also said it's important for their insurance provider to offer programs and resources that address their total health and wellbeing. Roughly half feel their current plan isn't offering relevant or personalized support.

The survey's verdict is that health plans will lose out if they treat seniors as a homogenous population. The good news is that this population is doing relatively well, health-wise. The numbers indicate that 88 percent feel healthier than their parents' generation, while four in five say they feel younger than their actuaL age.

To improve quality of life, seniors are adopting a new definition of health, which includes all aspects of health -- physical, social, emotional and financial. They're most likely to say financial stability (94 percent), adequate sleep (91 percent), and positive relationships (90 percent) are most important for them to achieve and maintain.

WHAT ELSE YOU SHOULD KNOW

The way seniors communicate is changing, and plans would do well to track and honor preferences to be successful. Email emerged as the top way that seniors want to communicate with their health plan, especially among Medicare Advantage members (52 percent), followed by phone and regular mail. There's also growing interest in connecting digitally, including text messaging.

THE TREND

A June Lumeris survey found that 27 percent of major U.S. health system executives intend to launch a Medicare Advantage plan in the next four years. Despite that, confidence among these same execs is lacking, with only 29 percent reporting they felt confident in their organization's ability to make the launch successfully.

Those who are currently enrolled in an MA plan have until March 31 to switch to another MA plan or to traditional Medicare.
 

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com

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