Too many options in Medicare Advantage Program May prove counter productive

According to a study published in Health Affairs and authored by Harvard Medical School researcher J. Michael McWilliams and colleagues, the extensive choice of managed care plans provided by the Medicare Advantage Program offers could prove to be counterproductive. Seniors, mainly those with poor cognitive abilities, may end up taking no decision when faced with too many choices of presented with an excessively wide choice of complex insurance options.
There was numerous payment increases to the Medicare Advantage program started under the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act. These increases considerably raised the number of private plans that could take part in the program. This prompted them to contend for beneficiaries by providing more benefits and cheaper premiums, like the coverage for prescription medications.
McWilliams and colleagues aimed at finding out the effect of the extended benefits and choices of enrollment in Medicare Advantage when compared to traditional Medicare. They established that when the number of plan options being offered was less than 15, an increase in the number of plans resulted in an increase in Medicare Advantage enrollment. However, when there were more than 30 options the number of enrollments declined. Medicare beneficiaries with poor cognitive abilities find it very difficult to decide for the best options when presented with too many Medicare plan alternatives. Their findings are particularly important now, as health insurance exchanges are set up under the recent reform legislation under the Affordable Care Act.

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