Unused Supplemental Benefits May Drive Duals to Switch MA Plans, Finds Deft Study

New data from Deft Research suggests that Medicare Advantage plans continue to struggle with retaining their dual eligible members, mainly because of problems associated with the supplemental benefits offered to address social needs. Published on June 29, Deft’s 2023 Dual Eligible Retention Study found that duals switch plans at about twice the rate of other MA beneficiaries. And while Deft says duals “absolutely depend” on supplemental benefits such as dental care, grocery allowances and utility assistance, duals’ reported issues with their current health coverage often stem from these enhanced offerings, whether they be a source of confusion or just prove difficult to use.

An estimated 30% of dual eligibles make a coverage change over the course of a year, and 8% of duals have already made a switch this year as of mid-May, according to Deft. (Dual eligibles can enroll in or switch dual plans once per quarterly Special Enrollment Period or during the Medicare Annual Election Period). By contrast, Deft in its 2023 Medicare Shopping and Switching Study, which is based on the responses of about 5,000 Medicare beneficiaries, observed that switching by “full pay” (i.e., those receiving no extra help) MA beneficiaries shot up to 15% this past AEP, compared with 12% in the prior two periods.

© 2024 MMIT
Lauren Flynn Kelly

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues, including drug benefits and specialty pharmacy, for more than a decade. She served as editor of Drug Benefit News (the predecessor to Radar on Drug Benefits) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016, and now manages Radar on Medicare Advantage. Lauren graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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