Rates of Medicare Advantage turnover may be higher than previously thought: Study

Around 16 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees switch insurance after one year of enrollment, a new study in the American Journal of Managed Care found. 

Using CMS data, researchers from Harvard University and the University of Michigan tracked new Medicare Advantage enrollees from 2012 to 2017. Nearly half of Medicare Advantage enrollees switched insurers by their fifth year of enrollment, the study, published Oct. 4,  found. 

The study's authors wrote that Medicare Advantage enrollees are often thought of as "sticky," staying with the same insurance provider once enrolled. 

"Relative to other systems, one may naturally expect lower rates of turnover within [Medicare Advantage] given that enrollment is not affected by changes in employment, as with commercial and ACA plans, or income, as with Medicaid, and because most [Medicare Advantage] enrollees can only change insurance only during open enrollment periods," the researchers wrote. 

Instead, the study found turnover in Medicare Advantage plans was similar to some commercial and Medicaid markets. 

Previous research cited in the study has shown insurance turnover can lead to worse health outcomes. 

"Turnover in [Medicare Advantage] may lead to inferior health outcomes through disjointed care and decreased investment in improved care delivery. Future research could help assess the extent to which turnover affects the care that MA enrollees receive," the authors concluded. 

Read the full study here.

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