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Strategies for Simplifying the Medicare Advantage Market

Most Medicare beneficiaries have at least 40 Medicare Advantage (MA) plan options to choose from this year. While some favor a robust marketplace, others argue that fewer plan offerings, or more transparent differences across plans designs, would help beneficiaries choose plans most likely to meet their individual needs. While consumers generally show interest in choice and economists see it as enhancing value, research shows that individuals faced with a large number of alternatives often avoid making a decision or choose options that may not be the best for them economically.

This report prepared for the Kaiser Family Foundation presents new data on Medicare Advantage plans, and uses these data to examine a range of policy options that would simplify choices for Medicare beneficiaries, including changes recently proposed by the Obama Administration. This paper assesses the implications for beneficiaries and the potential change in the number of plan offerings as a result of each option. It was authored by Marsha Gold of Mathematica Policy Research.

Report (.pdf)