Newsroom > Press Releases > People on Medicare Who Are Unhappy With Their Medicare Coverage Are LESS Likely to Shop for New Coverage Than Those Who Are Happy, New Survey Shows

People on Medicare Who Are Unhappy With Their Medicare Coverage Are LESS Likely to Shop for New Coverage Than Those Who Are Happy, New Survey Shows

New research by eHealth finds that an individual’s Medicare literacy (how well they understand Medicare) is predictive of their satisfaction with their coverage and their willingness to research their options and switch plans

Nearly half of all people who change Medicare plans believe they could have made a better choice when they first enrolled in Medicare, according to the results of a survey released today by eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH).

The survey of 1,335 people enrolled in Medicare measured respondents’ Medicare “literacy” and found that 32 percent of those with high Medicare literacy – those who were familiar with a variety of key Medicare terms – have changed Medicare plans or added to their coverage since they first enrolled. By contrast, only about 11 percent of those with low Medicare literacy have changed Medicare plans or added to their coverage since they first enrolled, citing confusion about different plan options that prevented them from even trying to make a change.

“One would hope that a senior who is dissatisfied with their Medicare coverage would be motivated to find something else, but that doesn’t seem to be the case,” said Robert Hurley, eHealth’s President of Medicare Operations. “This research shows the impact of Medicare’s complexity: it decreases a person’s willingness to change their Medicare coverage, even if the coverage they have is not working for them.”

The survey also found that Medicare recipients who had high Medicare literacy were more likely than those with low Medicare literacy to be satisfied with their Medicare plan and to research their Medicare coverage options.

The survey was conducted online with 1,335 responses from Medicare enrollees between the ages of 67 and 75, including 400 people from the general population and 935 eHealth customers. Data was weighted to be representative of target populations.

Those with high medical literacy (among both eHealth customers and the general population group) are significantly more likely to research Medicare compared to those with low Medicare literacy. 

  • Nearly all (95%) eHealth customers with high literacy have researched Medicare, compared to approximately 3 in 4 (82%) with low literacy.
  • Most (89%) in the general population with high literacy have researched Medicare, compared to just over half (54%) of those with low literacy.
  • Those with high Medicare literacy are more likely than those with low or average Medicare literacy to be proactive about researching/enrolling in Medicare.
  • Those with high Medicare literacy (among both eHealth customers and the general population group) are significantly more likely to shop, add to, or switch plans (73% vs. 50% among eHealth customers and 63% vs. 27% in the general population).
  • Nearly half (48%) of eHealth customers with high literacy have changed plans or added to their coverage since they first enrolled, compared to 1 in 3 (33%) with low literacy.
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (32%) in the general population with high literacy have changed plans or added to their coverage since they first enrolled, compared to  about 1 in 10 (11%) with low literacy.

“This underscores the importance of having access to the right information when it’s time to enroll – or re-enroll – in Medicare,” Mr. Hurley said. “The more you know about your options, the more likely you are to find a plan that fits your needs – and that’s more important than ever as we age.”

Operating as eHealth.com, eHealthMedicare.com and Medicare.com, eHealth is an online health insurance marketplace that helps individuals, families, small business owners and Medicare beneficiaries compare insurance plans and enroll online or by phone.

To help people increase their “Medicare literacy,” eHealth has published two online guides for people currently enrolled in Medicare or “aging in” to Medicare for the first time:

Defining Medicare Literacy

To assess survey respondents’ Medicare literacy, they were presented with 11 terms that are important to understanding Medicare coverage: co-pay, premium, provider network, out-of-pocket maximum, deductible, coinsurance, Medicare Advantage, prescription drug formulary, Medicare Supplement, Medicare Part D, and Medicare Part B.

Respondents were asked to imagine a friend had asked them to describe each term, then were shown a few possible definitions of the term, as well as an option to say they did not know enough about the term to describe it for a friend. 

Additional insights, methodology and data can be found in the full survey results, published here.