Medicare beneficiaries confused about enrollment

By BenefitsPro


By Kathryn Mayer

Benefits experts might need to sharpen up their education efforts on enrollment, as Medicare beneficiaries are more confused than ever about open enrollment.

A new HealthPocket Medicare survey found that 78 percent of beneficiaries don’t know when the last day is, and many mistakenly think they have until the end of the year to make plan changes.

When asked about how long Medicare’s annual enrollment period runs, 33 percent said Dec. 31; 26 percent said Dec, 1 and 19 percent said Dec. 15.

Only 22 percent answered correctly that the last day of enrollment is Dec. 7.

Researchers say ongoing attention on PPACA isn’t helping already-confused Medicare beneficiaries.

“With so much public attention on healthcare.gov, seniors may be getting lost in the shuffle,” said Steve Zaleznick, executive director for consumer strategy and development for HealthPocket.

Previously, experts said some Medicare beneficiaries have been confused about PPACA’s new exchanges, mistakenly thinking they needed to now enroll in coverage through them.

Exacerbating confusion is that open enrollment for Medicare overlaps with that of the exchanges, which runs Oct. 1 through March 31.

HealthPocket analysts said there are a lot of important insurance decisions left to make in only a month’s time. They said that “plans change from one year to the next and purchasers should use the annual enrollment period to assess their needs and the plans that are most likely to meet them.”

Similarly, Allsup — a nationwide provider of Medicare plan selection services —pointed out “significant changes” for prescription drug coverage in 2014, including plan costs, plan drug coverage changes, changes to the donut hole, and new plan options and benefit parameters.

“[The poll’s results] should serve as a call to action for everyone doing outreach to Medicare enrollees,” Zaleznick said.

Originally published on BenefitsPro.com