With Record Unemployment, Recession Alters Medicare ‘Age-In’ Landscape

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.

© 2021 MMIT

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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