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How are Seniors Choosing and Changing Health Insurance Plans?

This report summarizes first-hand accounts of seniors’ Medicare private plan decision making strategies, based on focus groups conducted in four cities. Seniors found the initial plan selection process overwhelming due to the volume of information they received and their inability to organize it. Few used the government’s online comparison tool, and those that did cite several shortcomings. Many relied on advice from sources they trust, including insurance agents, plan representatives, friends, family members, doctor’s offices and pharmacists. After they enroll in a plan, many seniors did not revisit their initial decision or review plan options without the strong provocation of a substantial increase in cost, change in coverage, or shift in personal health care needs. Moreover, they feared that a change in plans may disrupt their care, or lead to an unforeseen increase in out-of-pocket costs, and require them to learn new rules and requirements. They are doubtful they would end up in a plan that is appreciatively different or better for them. Overall, seniors preferred to have numerous choices in plans but would like personalized help and advice from experts to ease the process.

Medicare Advantage: Take Another Look

This Policy Insight explores possible explanations for the continued rise in Medicare Advantage enrollment between 2010 and 2013 in spite of a projected decrease following payment changes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Summary of Medicare Provisions in the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016

On February 2, 2015, the Office of Management and Budget released President Obama’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016, which includes provisions related to federal spending and revenues, including Medicare savings. The President’s FY2016 budget proposal would reduce net Medicare spending by $423 billion between 2016 and 2025, and is estimated to extend the solvency of the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund by approximately five years. This brief summarizes the Medicare provisions included in the President’s FY2016 Budget.

Medicare Spending Peaks at Age 96

In this column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman discusses the implications of a Kaiser finding: per capita Medicare spending peaks at age 96, and the main reason is not end-of-life care.

Medicare Spending Peaks at Age 96  

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman discusses the implications of a Kaiser finding: per capita Medicare spending peaks at age 96, and the main reason is not end-of-life care. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online.

How Much (More) Will Seniors Pay for a Doc Fix?

In this Policy Insight, the Foundation’s Cristina Boccuti and Tricia Neuman examine how Congress’ effort to permanently stave off scheduled cuts in Medicare’s physician payments could affect what Medicare beneficiaries pay for their care — both in premiums and in other potential changes — to offset the cost of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) “doc fix.”

Medicare Spending Cuts and Hospital Productivity Gains

In this column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman and guest co-author Dana Goldman examine hospital productivity gains, and what they may mean for hospitals’ ability to absorb spending reductions.

Medicare Spending Cuts and Hospital Productivity Gains

In his latest column for The Wall Street Journal’s Think Tank, Drew Altman and guest co-author Dana Goldman examine hospital productivity gains, and what they may mean for hospitals’ ability to absorb spending reductions. All previous columns by Drew Altman are available online.

What Do We Know About Health Care Access and Quality in Medicare Advantage Versus the Traditional Medicare Program?

As the number of Medicare Advantage enrollees continues to climb, there is growing interest in understanding how the care provided to Medicare beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans differs from the care received by beneficiaries in traditional Medicare. This literature review of more than 40 studies synthesizes the evidence to date comparing access and quality for beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans and traditional Medicare.

How Do Quality and Access Compare In Medicare Advantage Versus Traditional Medicare?

Today a record three in 10 Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage health plans, mainly HMOs and PPOs, which are paid by the government to provide Medicare benefits to their enrollees. Given the projected rise in Medicare Advantage enrollment, an important question for both consumers and policymakers is how…

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.