Nearly half of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries disenroll from their plans within 5 years: Study

Many Medicare Advantage beneficiaries disenroll from their plans within five years of enrolling, a study published Aug. 25 in JAMA Health Forum found. 

The study analyzed disenrollment patterns for 82.4 million individuals enrolled in Medicare Advantage between 2011 and 2020. After one year, 13.2 percent of enrollees in non-dual-eligible plans disenrolled from the plan, and 15.9 percent of beneficiaries in dual-eligible special needs plans disenrolled. 

After five years, 48.3 percent of enrollees in non-dual-eligible MA plans had left the plan, and 53.4 percent of D-SNP enrollees had disenrolled. 

Contracts with five-star quality ratings from CMS had much lower five-year disenrollment rates, with 23 percent of enrollees leaving by the five-year mark. This number was 41.2 percent for four and 4.5 star rated contracts, and 67.2 percent for three to 3.5 star rated contracts. 

Black Medicare beneficiaries were more likely to disenroll from their plans than their white counterparts, the study found. After five years, 52.6 percent of Black enrollees had left their plans, compared to 40.7 percent of white beneficiaries. 

Most beneficiaries who disenrolled from one MA plan enrolled in a different MA option rather than traditional Medicare, the study found. 

Because many beneficiaries leave their plans between three and five years after enrollment, payers are not incentivized to invest in long-term strategies to improve members' care outcomes, the study's authors wrote. 

"Given the high level of disenrollment within 3 to 5 years found in this study, plans may financially benefit by increasing coding intensity in a short period while avoiding interventions to address chronic conditions in which potential benefits may take time to materialize and accrue to competing insurers," the researchers wrote. 

The study was written by researchers at Brown University School of Public Health in Providence, R.I. Read the full study here. 

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