Navigation Links
Complex choices in Medicare Advantage program may overwhelm seniors, study finds
Date:8/18/2011

Boston, MA (August 18, 2011) In health care, more choice may not always lead to better choices, particularly for the elderly.

In a new study, researchers from Harvard Medical School's Department of Health Care Policy found that the large variety of managed care plans offered by the Medicare Advantage program may be counter-productive. Elderly patients, particularly those with low cognitive ability, often make poor decisionsor no decisions at allwhen faced with an overwhelming number of complex insurance choices. Ironically, those with impaired cognition may benefit most from the more generous coverage often offered by Medicare Advantage plans.

"We are providing the most complex insurance choices to the very population that is least equipped to make these high-stakes decisions," says J. Michael McWilliams, assistant professor of health care policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School and a practicing general internist in the Division of General Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Most other Americans choose from just a few health plans, but elderly Medicare beneficiaries often have to sift through dozens of options."

The study will appear online August 18 in the journal Health Affairs. It will also appear in the September print edition of Health Affairs.

The Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 initiated a series of payment increases to the Medicare Advantage program. These payment hikes dramatically increased the number of private plans participating in the program and encouraged plans to compete for enrollees by offering lower premiums and more generous benefits, such as prescription drug coverage.

In order to examine the effects of these expanded choices and benefits of enrollment in Medicare Advantage versus traditional Medicare, McWilliams and his team looked at 21,815 enrollment decisions from 2004 to 2007 made by 6,672 participants in a national longitudinal survey, and compared enrollment decisions between participants with different cognition levels and different plan offerings in their area.

The researchers found that, on average, an increase in the number of plans was associated with increased Medicare Advantage enrollment, provided the number of available plan options was fewer than 15. When the number of options surpassed 30, as it did in 25 percent of U.S. counties, such increases were actually associated with decreased enrollment. More importantly, beneficiaries with low cognitive function were substantially less likely than their peers with high cognitive function to appreciate the advantages offered by these plans, choosing to remain in the traditional Medicare program instead.

The authors suggest the reason for lower enrollment could be that beneficiaries became overwhelmed and chose traditional Medicare by default. Furthermore, elderly Medicare beneficiaries with limited cognitive abilities may have difficulty identifying the most valuable option from a complex set of Medicare alternatives. This is particularly concerning given the high and rising prevalence of cognitive impairment and dementia in the aging Medicare population.

The findings also have important policy implications as health insurance exchanges are established under the recent national health reform legislation, the Affordable Care Act. These exchanges, the authors say, could be helpful to seniors and the Medicare program if expanded to handle enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans.

"Efforts to limit choice and guide seniors to the most valuable options could especially benefit those with cognitive impairments, who without more help appear to be leaving money on the table," McWilliams said. "Better enrollment decisions could in turn strengthen competition by rewarding high-value plans with more enrollees."


'/>"/>

Contact: David Cameron
david_cameron@hms.harvard.edu
617-432-0441
Harvard Medical School
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Complex New Guidelines From Multiple Organizations Confuses Men About Prostate Cancer Screening
2. AFib Educator app and widget offers patient dialogue tool for complex cardiovascular disease
3. Complex Technologies Announces Partnership with 6fusion to Deliver Cloud Services
4. Complex Spinal Operations Soar Despite Drawbacks
5. U of T researchers crack splicing code, solve a mystery underlying biological complexity
6. Nurse/tech symposium at TCT 2010 will address complex issues in the cardiac cath lab
7. FemFlora Reformulated with New Complex of Probiotic Bacteria
8. Study sheds light on deadly GI disease in infants born with complex congenital heart disease
9. SUMO works with replication protein A complex to repair DNA
10. Targeted therapy triggers complex mechanism of resistance
11. Unlocking the secret of beauty: Scientists discover the complexities of attractive female bodies
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:2/24/2017)... ... February 24, 2017 , ... Only two months after the official ... (ILTM) show in Cannes (France), XO Private has initiated a second print-run of its ... measures almost a metre across when open, weighs in at more than six kilos, ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... ... February 24, 2017 , ... An in-depth computational analysis of genetic ... Pittsburgh points to eight genes that may explain why susceptibility to one of the ... of a study published today in the journal npj Schizophrenia. , “There is ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... ... February 24, 2017 , ... The Smart Machine Age is here, and ... that 47 percent of all jobs in the United States may be taken over ... day of the aggressive know-it-all who steamrolls over colleagues is drawing to a close. ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... , ... February 24, 2017 , ... ... hearing disabilities, it is so critically important that we all are aware of ... is why Mediaplanet is proud to announce the launch of its newest edition ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... February 24, 2017 , ... The narrative ... offers Erik Schanssema ’s true account of his paramedic experiences. Schanssema describes the ... disorder and his attempts to overcome them. , Schanssema, initially unsure of the ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:2/24/2017)... 2017 The U.S. Food and Drug ... Kit, performed on the Pheno System. This is ... bloodstream infections and provide information about which antibiotics ... sensitivity). The test also reduces the amount of ... which can guide antibiotic treatment recommendations more quickly. ...
(Date:2/24/2017)...  This report analyzes the worldwide markets for Chiral ... Products: Intermediates, Analytical, and Others. The End Use ... Agrochemicals. The report provides separate comprehensive analytics for the ... , and Rest of World. Annual estimates and ... Also, a six-year historic analysis is provided for these ...
(Date:2/24/2017)... , Feb 24, 2017 Research and ... Price Analysis and Strategies - 2016" report to their offering. ... The latest ... drug pricing data and benchmarks in the global Urinary Incontinence market. ... What are the key drugs marketed for Urinary Incontinence and ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: