The Switch: shopping trends in Medicare’s AEP

As experts in Medicare, we stay up to date with trends to give you reliable information and provide clear guidance through Medicare. Using Deft Research data from the 2018 Annual Enrollment Period, Lauren Guinta, vice president of sales at UMA, found some noteworthy trends regarding the current state of senior health.

She highlights some of the most important findings below.

Most AEP shopping is done for due diligence

The most common reason seniors comparison shop during AEP is to ensure that their current plan is still their best option. Shopping for plans during AEP does not mean you have to switch coverage; it just helps you do your due diligence when it comes to your health.

In fact, 83 percent of people who comparison shopped their options in 2018 found that their plan was still their best solution and didn’t switch. Ensuring your plan fits your needs is just as important as finding a new one, says Guinta.

“You should take stock of your health insurance every year to make sure it still fits your needs. Even if you decide to stay with your plan, you did your due diligence and can rest assured, knowing that your current coverage is still your best option.”


Other reasons why beneficiaries didn’t switch include:

  • It was too much of a hassle
  • There were too many options to choose from
  • They just ultimately didn’t know their options

If you fall into any of these categories, working with a licensed agent can be a huge relief during AEP, says Guinta. It’s extremely important to take stock of your health care plan annually to make sure you are accurately and fully covered.

“During AEP, our licensed agents take on a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to comparison shopping. We know that Medicare can be confusing — especially during AEP, when companies are actively reaching out to customers and providing contradictory information. Our goal is to help them sift through all the noise to find either a new policy, or find confidence in their current one.”


Did you know? You can switch Medicare Supplement plans at any time. We save our clients an average of $634 when they switch plans.

Medicare Advantage members were twice as likely to switch

This is likely due to the fact that Medicare Advantage beneficiaries can only switch during this time period. Another reason could be that they face fewer barriers to switch, such as no underwriting.

But the main reason Medicare Advantage beneficiaries change plans is because their policy altered its price or offerings—which can (and often does) happen annually. Unlike Medicare Supplement plans, which are standardized in their coverage, Medicare Advantage carriers can change their plans each year, which can prompt more AEP switches.

Medigap beneficiaries were happier during AEP

Only seven percent of the switchers in 2018 were Medicare Supplement beneficiaries. Because Medigap plans can be switched at any time — regardless of enrollment periods — we don’t see much action during AEP for Medicare Supplement.

Because Medicare Supplement policies are standardized across the nation, these types of policies “rarely, if ever, run into network issues” the study says — making Medigap customers much less likely to require a change.

“Medicare Supplement has more freedom in terms of switching plans, so we find it easier to keep our clients happy with their coverage year-round,” Guinta says. “We are able to reach out proactively to make sure their coverage fits their needs, and find them solutions at that moment — rather than having to wait until specific enrollment periods.”


If you’re unhappy with your current Medicare Supplement policy or what to see what other options are out there, contact us today. Our advisors save clients an average of $634 when switching Medigap plans … at any time of the year, not just AEP.

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