Medicare missteps: 1 in 4 seniors end up picking health plans they hate

NEW YORK — Open enrollment may give people lots of choices, but the quality of those choices is a whole other problem. Nearly one-quarter of seniors have selected a healthcare plan that they weren’t happy with.

That’s according to a survey of 2,000 Americans 65 and older who have healthcare. Results also find that a similar number (24%) have chosen a plan simply because it was the cheapest option. Now, seniors tend to prioritize plans that cover what they need, regardless of the cost, rather than focusing only on the price tag (54% vs 34%).

Despite the average respondent having the same healthcare plan for five years, 50 percent say reading through the details gives them a headache. However, all those years must have taught them something, as 86 percent of seniors believe they are knowledgeable about their current plan.

Despite that, when asked what terms they’d need to research, words like “deductible” (27%), “out-of-pocket limit” (26%), and “co-payment” (26%) ranked at the top of the list. 

Conducted by OnePoll for ClearMatch Medicare, the survey finds that 41 percent of respondents have no idea how much money they’d need to spend if they had to go to the doctor for an emergency right now. Furthermore, a little more than one-third (34%) are often hit with unexpected costs after receiving medical care.

Infographic about senior healthcare plans
(Credit: SWNS)

Over the past year, those unexpected costs set seniors back by an average of $555.60. 

Twenty percent of seniors even admit that an unplanned medical expense has caused them not to be able to pay bills at least once over the years. When thinking about the amount of unplanned money they’ve forked over, seniors feel frustrated (27%), annoyed (22%), and even worried (21%).

“Between unexpected bills and confusing, costly plans, seniors have their work cut out for them. It’s important to not only choose a plan that works financially but to also help cut down on unexpected costs,” says spokesperson Ben Pajak, CEO of ClearMatch Medicare, a part of HealthPlanOne, LLC, in a statement. “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the options during open enrollment. It would be beneficial to sit down with a trusted licensed agent to review all options and help you choose the one that is right for them.”

Although only 11 percent of respondents plan to switch their healthcare plan during open enrollment this year, 79 percent know when it starts.

During previous enrollment periods, seniors have spent time researching plans online to ensure they select the right one (35%) and discussed their options with a licensed insurance agent (33%). Almost two in five (39%) admit they’re likely to just “click through” annual enrollment options without truly reading them. This may be because 54 percent of seniors feel overwhelmed by the number of options offered during enrollment. 

Currently, one-third (32%) of seniors have more healthcare-related needs than they did last year. 

“It’s clear that seniors are overwhelmed with their healthcare options and with increasing healthcare needs, it’s important that they are covered in the areas they need most,” says spokesperson Jennifer Girdler, Vice President of Sales. 

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans 65+ who have health care was commissioned by ClearMatch Medicare between Oct. 5 and Oct. 11, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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