In an article in Health Affairs, Gretchen A. Jacobson and Patricia Neuman of the Kaiser Family Foundation and independent consultant Anthony Damico examined whether the 2006-2011 growth in private Medicare Advantage plans was due primarily to new beneficiaries choosing Medicare Advantage from the onset of their eligibility, or because beneficiaries enrolled in traditional Medicare were making a switch. Their study finds that a majority of new enrollees in Medicare Advantage in each year were seniors switching from traditional Medicare. Less than one-quarter of people newly eligible for Medicare enrolled in Medicare Advantage from the outset, and they comprised less than half of all new Medicare Advantage enrollees each year between 2006 and 2011. Seniors in their first few years on Medicare (in their late sixties) switched from traditional Medicare to Medicare Advantage at higher rates than other beneficiaries. People dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid (“dual eligibles”) and Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 and disabled disenrolled from Medicare Advantage at higher than average rates, a trend worth exploring because these beneficiaries tend to have significant health care needs. Nonetheless, the study, published today in the journal Health Affairs, also finds that the share of seniors who switch between traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage is relatively small, reinforcing the notion that most Medicare beneficiaries make a coverage choice and stick with it.
– The Kaiser Family Foundation