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Posted 01/15/2020

Few Medicare Beneficiaries Switch Plans During the Open Enrollment Period

Few Medicare Beneficiaries Switch Plans During the Open Enrollment Period

Each year, Medicare beneficiaries in private Medicare Advantage plans and Part D stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs) have the opportunity to change plans during the annual open enrollment period (October 15 to December 7). Medicare’s private plans vary significantly from each other and can change from one year to the next, which can have a significant impact on enrollees’ coverage and costs. The Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) encourages beneficiaries to shop for Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans to potentially save money on prescriptions or get new benefits.

Understanding how Medicare private plan markets are working is increasingly important for both beneficiaries and the Medicare program overall. Many presidential candidates and policymakers have proposed establishing a public program, modeled on Medicare, to expand coverage, while others want to expand the role of private plans within Medicare itself. To inform these discussions, this analysis examines the share of people enrolled in Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans (MA-PDs) and PDPs who switched plans for the following year during the open enrollment periods between 2007 and 2016, the most current year available for analysis of Medicare private plan switching rates. 

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