This is the sixth in a series of findings from Data Decisions Group’s 2022 Medicare Preferences Study. We explore the differences in importance Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement members place on attributes of their respective plans.
While important to members of both plan types, access to specific providers and network resources is, by far, the main reason Medicare Supplement members choose the plans they do. Among 19 different plan attributes and features, more than 1 in 5 Medicare Supplement members identify their network coverage as the most important one. Among Medicare Advantage members, access to their preferred providers is one of three important attributes; prescription drug coverage and add-on benefits are nearly equal to network coverage in terms of importance for these consumers.
Since network options are generally more limited with Medicare Advantage plans, it’s apparent that members are willing to trade off any HMO-like restrictions associated with their plans for the additional, low or no-cost benefits these plans offer, such as vision coverage, dental insurance, and, especially, prescription drug coverage. In most situations Medicare Supplement plans, unlike Medicare Advantage plans, offer these features only with additional premium costs.
Medicare Supplement providers should recognize that there are a couple of unambiguous motivators for many consumers. First, access to their preferred doctors and specialists is of paramount importance, and second (related to the first) members need to believe that the premiums they pay are worth the value of that network access.
A word about the methodology for this part of the research:
The shares of importance for plan features were determined through a choice exercise known as Maximum Differential Scaling, or MaxDiff. In this exercise, respondents are asked to choose the most important and least important attribute from a short list of all the possible attributes. This choice exercise is repeated many times, with respondents seeing each of the 19 attributes several times, but in different combinations. All of the differences between Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement members in the chart above are statistically significant at the 95% confidence level.
Data Decisions Group conducted the 2022 Medicare Preferences Study, a large, nationwide study of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement alternatives among 2,324 current Medicare-qualified consumers and 64-year-olds who will become eligible soon. The online study was fielded between March 28 and April 11, 2022. The margin of error for this study is approximately ± 1.5%.
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