Health carriers and producers are set to end what seems to have been a calm, busy Medicare plan annual enrollment period at the close of business today.
The enrollment period for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Plan D prescription drug coverage runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 every year.
Traditional Medicare enrollees can sign up for Medicare Advantage and Medicare drug coverage during the annual enrollment period, and enrollees in Medicare Advantage plans can switch to traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage plan enrollees can switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) does not provide the kinds of activity statistics updates for the Medicare plan enrollment period that it now provides for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) individual medical open enrollment period.
But insurers have been running many more broadcast and television ads for Medicare plans than for exchange plans, and agents talking about the exchange period in Web forums have said they are busy.
One enroller celebrated the end of the Medicare enrollment period with a tweet with the hashtag “#bestdayever.”
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A few consumers have tweeted about mistakes they made when trying to enroll relatives in coverage.
One consumer tweeted, “Can someone explain why Medicare insists on sending daily enrollment emails to a 23-year-old?”
But news articles and social media posts about enrollment problems or consumer complaints about coverage price increases have been rare.
Analysts at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation reported last week that Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D drug plan menus continue to be varied.
In metropolitan counties, for example, the average number of Medicare Advantage plans available increased to 21 for 2016, from 20 in 2015. The average number of plans available in non-metropolitan counties increased to 11, from 10.
The unweighted average monthly premium for a local Medicare Advantage preferred provider organization (PPO) plan fell $2.41, to $78.61.
Brian Wright, an analyst at Sterne Agee CRT, reported, based on a Florida insurance regulators’ hearing on the proposed acquisition of Humana Inc. (NYSE:HUM) by Aetna Inc. (NYSE:AET) that about 21 percent of Aetna’s Medicare Advantage enrollees and 25 percent of Humana’s have switched to traditional Medicare in the past three years, and that 70 percent of private exchange users choose traditional Medicare coverage, rather than Medicare Advantage plans.