Special Enrollment Period

Seniors’ Plan Loyalty Wavers as Deft Saw 15% Medicare Advantage Switch Rate in 2023 AEP

Each year, Deft Research surveys a panel of Medicare beneficiaries to better understand consumer decision making during the Medicare Annual Election Period (AEP) and help carriers and their partners strategize for the next plan year. Deft’s 2023 Medicare Shopping and Switching Study, the latest in the firm’s Senior Market Insights Service series, features responses from more than 3,000 seniors who were surveyed immediately after the AEP and an additional 1,800 individuals who were surveyed regularly during the October-December period.

While the overall switching rate among seniors shopping during the AEP was relatively unchanged from prior years at 11%, Deft observed that switching by Medicare Advantage beneficiaries reached 15%, up from 12% seen in the prior two periods. That wasn’t surprising given that Deft’s AEP Gut Check Study from July 2022 suggested seniors’ frustration with plan-offered flex cards and interest in Part B giveback benefits might inspire them to shop around.


WellCare Kept PDP Enrollees Via ‘Conversational’ Outreach Pilot

A pilot with Drips’ trademarked “conversational texting” platform has helped WellCare significantly lower the percentage of Prescription Drug Plan policies that were being terminated due to nonpayment, according to a case study presented at the 13th Annual Medicare Market Innovations Forum, held May 11 and 12 in Phoenix.

Since WellCare was acquired by Centene Corp. in January 2020, the PDP team has been focused on “optimizing operational execution” and ensuring a positive member experience, said WellCare Senior Director of Prescription Drug Plans Talia Duany, who presented the case study with Drips. “When you’ve got 4.1 million members in an industry that’s shrinking — this year we saw the biggest [decline] in available PDP options, everyone’s moving into [Medicare Advantage] — having a robust member retention strategy” is critical.


Potential 5-Star SEP Disruption Depends on Marketing Prowess

With 74 Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan contracts earning a 5-star rating for 2022, compared with just 21 such plans last year, an unprecedented number of MA-PD plans have the ability to market 5-star products throughout the year — thanks in large part to COVID-related adjustments to the star ratings that are not likely to reoccur. According to multiple industry experts, that anomaly presents a unique set of challenges for plans that weren’t expecting to be 5 stars and could create some unusual midyear enrollment shifts.

That all depends, however, on how aggressive 5-star plans are with their marketing and how many enrollees take advantage of the so-called 5-star special enrollment period (SEP). While MA insurers have the advantage of marketing their 5-star plans year round, enrollees who are in a service area where a 5-star plan is available may switch from their current Medicare plan to a 5-star contract one time between Dec. 8 and Nov. 30.


Star Ratings Surge Could Disrupt the Market During Special Enrollment Period

The pandemic-fueled boom in 5-star rated Medicare Advantage contracts could cause “significant market disruption” in 2022, suggests a new report from Wakely. In an analysis of enrollment data from CMS, the actuarial consulting firm found that 5-star contracts account for 19% to 30% of MA intra-year enrollment growth (i.e., enrollment gains occurring between February and December of a particular year), with 5-star contracts growing between 3.8% and 5.1% midyear. Since 5-star plans have the advantage of marketing their products all year long and enrolling members who qualify for the 5-star special enrollment period, the major increase in the number of available 5-star plans has the potential to create unprecedented enrollment shifts later this year. The report warned, however, that midyear plan switchers may have a less-than-favorable risk profile.