How Well Are Seniors Making Choices Among Medicare’s Private Plans And Does It Matter? Briefing and Panel Discussion
The typical Medicare beneficiary this year has 18 private Medicare Advantage plans and 35 stand-alone Part D drug plan options to consider, in addition to traditional Medicare. Medicare encourages seniors to make informed decisions with respect to their health coverage options when they first become eligible for Medicare, and to review these options annually so they select coverage that best meet their needs. Yet research suggests only a small share of Medicare beneficiaries voluntarily switch plans during Medicare’s open enrollment periods. This raises questions about the role of choice in Medicare: How do Medicare beneficiaries choose among coverage options? Are Medicare beneficiaries happy with their coverage or just “sticky” when it comes to plan choice? What motivates some to switch plans and why don’t others do so? What are the implications for Medicare beneficiaries, private plans, health care providers and Medicare’s future? At 9:30 a.m. ET Tuesday, May 13, the Kaiser Family Foundation held a policy briefing to examine how seniors and younger Medicare beneficiaries are negotiating their Medicare Advantage and Part D coverage options and consider the implications for them and for Medicare in the future. Swarthmore College Professor Barry Schwartz, author of The Paradox of Choice and a TED conference speaker, provided opening remarks on why Americans value choice and the effects of abundant choice for individuals and their decision-making. His remarks were followed by perspectives from an expert panel that focused on Medicare, comprising Joe Antos, scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Gretchen Jacobson, associate director for Medicare policy at the Foundation; Joshua Raskin, managing director at Barclays Capital; and Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. Foundation Senior Vice President Tricia Neuman moderated.