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About 23 million of the 62 million people eligible for Medicare have Medicare Advantage coverage, and about 14 million have Medigap coverage.
Some of the other Medicare enrollees have other types of Medicare plans. Companies in the Medicare market are so enthusiastic that, last spring, as the first C-19 wave was peaking, distributors put out press releases announcing they were hiring a total of thousands of call center agents.
Here are five things to know about the Medicare plan market heading toward Thursday:
► The market looks competitive: UnitedHealthcare has put out rate sheets showing that, in states like Alabama and Maine, its typical standard rates will be going up about 6% to 7% in 2021.
CMS has spreadsheets showing what’s happening to Medicare Advantage and Part D prices. There, the average monthly premium is on track to decrease 11% in 2021, to $21;
► 31% of people aging into Medicare plan to get enrollment help from live humans: GoHealth, a broker, came up with that statistic in an online survey of 2,106 people 62 and older and not enrolled in Medicare; or 65 and older and enrolled in Medicare;
► Agents and marketers in the field are feeling the effects of the increased level of competition: Jesse Slome of the American Association for Medicare Supplement Insurance (AAMSI) said the “pace of change has been greatly accelerated compared to a year ago.
There is accelerated consolidation and acquisition of companies that will give larger national distributors significant competitive advantages.”;
► COVID-19 itself might not have that much effect on experienced retail agents: Lindsay Engle, a Medicare market tracker who works for
MedicareFAQ.com, said the image of local agents meeting with clients at a kitchen table is off the mark. “Social distancing won’t have much of an impact, since most sell over the phone.”;
► At least some in the private Medicare plan sector are excited about the idea of the possibility of a change in Medicare age eligibility: Looking ahead, the growth potential for the industry is enormous if the eligibility age is dropped to 60.
If the federal government cuts the regular Medicare eligibility to age 60, “That will result in an immediate growth of the market by 20.5 million,” said Jesse Slome of the AAMSI.
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