CONSUMER SURVEY

Medicare Consumers are Talking.

We are Listening.

 

Over the past 9 years, ConnectureDRX has surveyed nearly 20,000 healthcare and Medicare consumers to gain insights into shopping and enrollment behaviors. These insights are critical for our FMO, health plan, and ebroker customers to better understand buying behavior trends and help ConnectureDRX drive product innovation and thought leadership in our solutions and services.

Digital Medicare

 

Ten thousand baby boomers age into Medicare every day with questions about getting the right, affordable healthcare coverage and finding their best fit Medicare plans. As a result of the 2020 pandemic, questions regarding coverage arose along with changes in the way consumers interact with their brokers and health plans. Few strolled into an insurance agency and chatted it up with a broker. In-person encounters were replaced by online meetings. And, although online shopping and enrolling increased, paper enrollments remain a persistent issue.

These findings are interesting because in a year filled with fear and uncertainty trust in the Medicare industry, health plans and brokers increased; reliance on broker guidance trended up and beneficiaries sought out supplemental benefits to ensure their coverage needs were met. Beneficiaries also adopted technology to stay connected to loved ones and purchase products, and agents mirrored the use of technology to better engage their customers.

 

The Senior in 2021 vs 2020

A senior’s ability to connect digitally, have drug pricing transparency and understand their Medicare plan options is more important now than ever.

The Senior in 2020

  • Isolated, bored, fearful
  • Looming health concerns
  • Virtual connection more important than ever
  • Seniors become more digitally savvy, forcing agents to adapt
  • Self-servicing plan shopping, but relying on brokers for guidance
  • Many lose jobs but still need the income
  • Retirement funds depleted
  • View of retirement is changing

The Senior in 2021

  • Vaccine brings hope of getting out
  • Anxious to connect with families in person
  • Virtual connection not going away
  • May not be as fearful to change plans, as did not make any changes in 2020
  • Supplemental benefits are very important – seniors want options
  • Want to know prices before they buy – transparency is king!
  • Is in control as the member experience becomes more important

Highlights From Our 2020 Survey

Summary: Medicare Advantage enrollments were UP, and beneficiaries stayed loyal to their health plans in times of Covid19. Broker assistance was UP and so was Trust in the Medicare system across the board.

Why STAY With Plans?

Beneficiaries stay with plans because they trust the carrier. The majority of beneficiaries (68%) trust their health plan brand and have been happy with them. Fear of change during the pandemic kept many with their current plans, adopting a wait and see attitude that may lead to more plan changes during AEP 2022.

Followed by a distant second (9%) are beneficiaries who found the right plan only after shopping around. Broker guidance was up slightly as the reason beneficiaries stayed with their plans in 2020. There was a 4% decrease in beneficiaries staying with their plan because their doctors were on the plan.

Due to the large increase in the variety and number of MA plans available, MA health plans are finding it easier to retain members when they switch plans. With more plan options, members can stay loyal to a particular brand.

Why did you STAY with the same carrier/brand for your Medicare plan this year?

  • I trust my current health plan and have been happy with them. 67% 67%
  • 68% 68%
  • They happened to have the best Medicare option after shopping around. 8% 8%
  • 9% 9%
  • My broker guided me, and this was the best fit for me. 5% 5%
  • 7% 7%
  • My doctor(s) were on this plan, so it made sense to stay with the same company. 11% 11%
  • 7% 7%
  • 2019 1000% 1000%
  • 2020 1000% 1000%

Why did you SWITCH to a different carrier/brand this year?

  • I found a less expensive plan with another company. 29% 29%
  • 23% 23%
  • My broker guided me to a better fit plan. 20% 20%
  • 26% 26%
  • I was not happy with my current plan, company or coverage. 26% 26%
  • 15% 15%
  • I wanted more supplemental benefits. 16% 16%
  • 25% 25%
  • 2019 1000% 1000%
  • 2020 1000% 1000%

Why SWITCH plans?

From 2019 to 2020, there was a 6% decrease in beneficiaries who switched carriers because they found a less expensive plan. However, those that switched because their broker guided them to a better fit plan jumped up 6%.

Beneficiaries are happier with their plans today. 15% were not happy with their plan selection in 2020, but in 2019 26% were unhappy.

Beneficiaries want more supplemental benefits. In 2020, 25% switched plans due to the appeal of having more supplemental benefits (dental, vision, meals on wheels, etc.), whereas in 2019, 16% switched plans for more benefits. The importance of supplemental benefits is rising, and the top supplemental benefit that beneficiaries switched plans for is dental.

Of note: Deft Research found that beneficiaries with Covid-19 were more likely to switch plans within the same carrier than those who did not get Covid-19.

What Makes Best Fit Plan?

Beneficiaries said their best fit plan was the one with:

1. Lowest annual out-of-pocket costs – 54% indicated the plan with the lowest out-of-pocket costs was the best fit – a 14% increase

2. Best supplemental benefit options – 38% chose their best fit plan because it had the best supplemental benefits – a 9% jump

3. Broker guiding them to the plan – 23% chose a plan that their broker guided them to – a 6% rise

4. Plan with the lowest drug costs – 36% indicated that the plan with the lowest drug costs was clearly their best fit plan – a 5% increase

Of note is those who selected a zero premium plan as best fit dropped 2%. It may indicate that consumers have a better understanding now that there are many factors to consider when choosing a plan, such as the cost of prescription medications. They are learning from experience that zero premium can often end up costing them a lot more.

What makes the plan you chose the best fit for your needs?

  • The premium was $0 premium or the lowest cost of alloptions. 35% 35%
  • 33% 33%
  • The plan has the lowest drug costs, even with a monthly premium. 31% 31%
  • 36% 36%
  • The plan has the lowest annual costs & lowest out of pocket. 40% 40%
  • 54% 54%
  • The plan has the best supplemental benefits (dental, vision,etc.) 29% 29%
  • 38% 38%
  • I selected the plan that my broker recommended. 17% 17%
  • 23% 23%
  • 2019 1000% 1000%
  • 2020 1000% 1000%

Do you Trust Medicare?

  • I trust private insurance carriers (Cigna,Blue Cross, United Healthcare, etc.). 53% 53%
  • 56% 56%
  • I trust the Medicare.gov site. 55% 55%
  • 60% 60%
  • I trust independent insurance agents/brokers. 27% 27%
  • 32% 32%
  • I trust the Medicare system overall. 52% 52%
  • 56% 56%
  • 2019 1000% 1000%
  • 2020 1000% 1000%

Trust in Medicare

“Trust” in the government run Medicare system, private insurance carriers and independent agencies and brokers rose across the board. 

  • 60% trust Medicare.gov – up 5%
  • 56% trust private insurance carriers – up 3%
  • 56% trust the Medicare system overall – up 3%
  • 32% trust independent insurance agents and brokers – up 5%

68% said that trust is the reason they stayed with their health plan.

It is comforting to know that in light of a very challenging year, especially for beneficiaries, their ability to trust and depend on our Medicare system has gone up. It may indicate they are receiving the guidance they seek and the coverage they expect from their health plans. The other issue at play is beneficiaries are becoming more adept at using personal technology and using self-service to shop and enroll. With this comes increased confidence in their ability to select the right plans and coverage for their own needs.