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Open enrollment: 83% selecting Medicare Advantage choose plans with $0 premiums

The number of consumers selecting such plans represent an increase from the 76% who did so last year.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

Medicare's annual open enrollment period for 2020 healthcare coverage began on October 15, and among the emerging trends is that Medicare Advantage plans with $0 premiums are all the rage. So much so, in fact, that 83% of consumers are selecting these plans.

That figure comes from eHealth's snapshot analysis of consumer shopping behavior and average costs from the first half of the open enrollment period, which will continue through December 7.

By comparing eHealth's data with data previously published by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, it's possible to see what Medicare beneficiaries are actually purchasing as compared with what is available in the market.

Data culled from the period between October 15 and November 8 found that $5.47 is the average monthly premium for Medicare Advantage plans selected by people enrolling in coverage, down 43% from $9.53 in the same period last year.

The 83% who are choosing $0 premium Medicare Advantage plans represents an increase from the 76% who did so during the same period last year.

Part D premiums are down year-over-year: $19.76 is the average monthly premium for stand-alone Part D prescription drug plans selected by consumers in the first half of open enrollment, a decrease of 15% from the same period in 2018.

Medicare Supplement premiums, meanwhile, showed a modest increase. The average monthly premium is $157.48 for Medicare Supplement plans during the first half of open enrollment, an increase of 8% year-over-year.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

According to CMS, 24.4 million Medicare beneficiaries are expected to enroll in Medicare Advantage plans for 2020, up from 22.2 million in 2019. The average monthly premium for 2020 Medicare Advantage plans available nationwide is $23, down 14% from $26.87 in 2019. CMS reports that 90% or more of all Medicare beneficiaries in 46 states now have access to Medicare Advantage plans with a $0 monthly premium.

A new national poll conducted by Morning Consult, and released by advocacy group Better Medicare Alliance, shows that beneficiaries' satisfaction with Medicare Advantage is at an all-time high: 94% said they were satisfied, topping the previous best of 92%.

The poll also found that 62% of seniors call Medicare Advantage a "better choice" compared to traditional Medicare.

Among the other key findings: 93% of respondents are satisfied with the selection of doctors, physicians, and specialists in their Medicare Advantage plan; 88% say it's important for seniors to have a choice of plans other than traditional Medicare, such as Medicare Advantage; 84% are satisfied with the customer service offered by their plan administrator or care coordinator; 80% are satisfied with the cost of co-pays and deductibles in their Medicare Advantage plan; and 74% agree that wellness programs in Medicare Advantage help seniors live healthier lives.
 

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com