4 Studies that Explain the Stakes of Medicare Open Enrollment

By Leslie Walker
October 11, 2022

On Oct. 15, the 64 million Americans covered by Medicare can begin what may be their least favorite fall pastime: shopping for health insurance. As the open enrollment period begins, the choices beneficiaries face can be dizzying and have serious consequences for their health and finances.

This week, we’re highlighting previous Research Corner summaries that help explain what makes picking the optimal Medicare plan so challenging – and so important.

Looking for Causes of Racial Disparities in Medicare Advantage: Adrianna McIntyre summarized a study offering one possible explanation for why Black, Hispanic and Asian enrollees in Medicare Advantage are less likely than white enrollees to be in high-quality plans.

Picking a Medicare Plan Isn’t As Simple As You’d Think: Katie Keith recapped research on the role that third parties like insurance agents play in shaping consumers’ Medicare choices.

Do Health Plans Affect Mortality Rates? Aditi Sen dug into an eye-catching study claiming that, “Moving beneficiaries out of the bottom 5% of [Medicare Advantage] plans could save tens of thousands of elderly lives each year.”

The Deadly Costs of Charging Patients More for Prescriptions: Adrianna McIntyre (again!) shared a paper showing the dangerous – and even deadly – consequences of Medicare beneficiaries choosing less generous prescription drug plans.

If audio is more your thing, check out our episode, The Costly, Confusing Medicare Choices Facing 62 Million Americans, in which the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Medicare expert Tricia Neuman struggles to help her family friend compare plans and researcher Amal Trivedi reviews more evidence on this topic.

And look out for our Oct. 27 episode, where we’ll dig into the prices Medicare beneficiaries will now pay for their prescription drugs in the wake of the recently passed Inflation Reduction ActSubscribe now so you don’t miss it.

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