As shutdowns tied to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the highest unemployment rate seen in the U.S. since the Great Depression, the current recession appears to be reversing the trend of Medicare “age-ins” putting off enrollment into the program, observes a new study from Deft Research. And while it’s hard to predict consumer behavior during a pandemic, insurers’ age-in campaigns should take into account the financial constraints newly eligible beneficiaries may be facing.
As the unemployment rate hit 11.7% in May, the number of out-of-work people between the ages of 60 and 64 came close to 1.4 million people, compared with about 300,000 a year ago and 650,000 at the height of the Great Recession in the early 2010s, according to U.S. Dept. of Labor data cited in the Deft brief. And while 78% of consumers surveyed by Deft in 2013 anticipated enrolling in Medicare upon turning 65, that rate experienced a drop in subsequent years — hitting a low of 52% in 2017 before climbing to 57% and 58% in 2018 and 2019, respectively (see chart). Now, Deft’s 2020 Age-In Study finds that 61% of consumers plan to enroll in Medicare when they become eligible.