Medicare Advantage customers value quality over price


People who research and evaluate Medicare products take the plan-selection process very seriously and spend, on average, 22 hours choosing a plan, according to a national survey of 1,000 Medicare-eligible Americans commissioned by Humana.

The survey found 64 percent of respondents rank plan quality ahead of price or care continuity when choosing Medicare coverage options. And 10 percent wanted someone else to shop for health insurance on their behalf.

"While people enrolling in Medicare or a Medicare plan recognize the importance of selecting the option that works best for them, the research shows they are dedicated to finding what they believe to be the highest quality coverage and will invest the time to identify that best option," Humana's Vice President of Senior Products Debbie Smith said in a statement.

To help beneficiaries and their representatives select plans, insurers are participating in Medicare Advantage open houses in Southwest Florida, according to Naples News. Qualified staff from various insurers answer Medicare Advantage questions, help people enroll and educate attendees on the differences between their insurance concerns and those of others trying to buy insurance through state and federal exchanges, the article noted.

Americans choosing Medicare Advantage plans in the current open enrollment period may face a cluster of changes including fewer plan options, smaller provider networks, reduced benefits and greater cost sharing, the Associated Press reported. These changes stem from partially-phased-in funding cuts by the federal government, which is draining dollars from Medicare Advantage to finance healthcare reform.

Nationally, the number of Medicare Advantage plans offered in 2014 will drop from 2,664 to 2,522, according to the market analysis firm Avalere Health, AP noted.

And UnitedHealth, for example, is cutting about 19 percent of doctors from its Medicare Advantage network in Connecticut, a move the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS) said could lead to inconsistent care and poor health outcomes.

For more:
- read the AP report
- see Humana's survey announcement
- check out the Naples News article

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