What You Need to Know
- Complaints about the JJ Walker ads seem to have peaked in mid-November.
- Fluent found early on that about 25% of current Medicare enrollees said they were likely or very likely to change their coverage.
- About 88% of eHealth Medicare Advantage plan enrollments have been for plans with a $0 premium.
The annual enrollment period for 2022 Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans ended Tuesday.
Google Trends search activity charts are giving mixed signals about consumers’ interest in changing plans.
Search activity for the terms “Medicare” and “Medicare Advantage” was stronger over the summer than during any other off-season period since the current version of the Medicare Advantage program came to life.
In November, search activity was double what it was in November 2018 but about the same as in November 2019 and down about 20% from the November 2020 total.
The Medicare Helpline lead-generation service hired Jimmie “J.J.” Walker, a comedian who starred in the television series ”Good Times” in the 1970s, to appear in a commercial talking about Medicare Advantage plans’ expanded social support benefits, such as benefits that can provide some meal delivery or transportation services for patients coping with serious health problems.
Annual enrollment period search activity for “JJ Walker” spiked in early July and then again in late October, but it fell sharply in November.
The Annual Enrollment Period
The Medicare Advantage program gives insurers a chance to sell plans that serve as alternatives to traditional Medicare coverage. The participating insurers can use a combination of cash from the federal government and enrollees’ premium payments.
Issuers cannot exclude sick applicants or charge them higher premiums.
To compensate for the lack of medical underwriting, and to encourage the 63 million Americans who are eligible for Medicare to pay Medicare plan premiums even when they feel healthy, the government limits when enrollees can sign up for Medicare Advantage coverage for the first time without showing they have what the government considers a good reason to shop for coverage.
The main sign-up period runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. The government also offers a more limited Medicare Advantage open enrollment period, aimed solely at the 28 million consumers who already have some type of Medicare Advantage plan coverage, from Jan. 1 through March 31.