Deft Research recently surveyed more than 3,200 seniors to better understand their shopping and switching behavior during the annual election period (AEP). An executive research brief about the survey focuses on one of the findings: how the growth of $0 Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO) have permanently changed the Medicare landscape.

The research firm’s annual study examines what prompts the Medicare consumer to shop, what benefits lead them to switch, and which channels are the most effective at converting switchers. It’s the first in Deft’s five-part Senior Market Insights Service for 2020, which looks at Medicare switching and shopping, dual eligibles, OEP shopping and switching, age-in, and Medicare member experience and engagement.

An executive research brief from the Medicare shopping and switching survey focuses on one finding from the overall report: the growth of $0 PPOs.

Zero-dollar PPOs are now available to more than 57 million seniors across more than 86 percent of all United States counties, according to the Deft study. Although $0 HMOs remain the most popular option, Deft found that:

  • Nearly one million Medicare eligibles moved to $0 PPOs over the last two shopping cycles with most transitioning into long-standing contract.
  • More than 327,000 seniors (43 percent of January 2020 new plan enrollees) moved into $0 PPO options that were available for 2020. Notably, only 14 percent of these seniors went with smaller carriers that offered these plans.
  • Six percent of Original Medicare only members and 2 percent of MedSupp members who live in a $0 PPO market and know the product exists moved into these plans in 2020.

The potential for future growth is enormous, according to the report. Currently the majority of eligibles who live in a county with a $0 PPO offering aren’t even aware of the option. Once the base grows and there is greater awareness about the product, analysts believe that there will be a measurable impact on switching.

For more information on the full results of the 2020 Medicare Shopping and Switching Study email with the subject line “2020 Medicare S & S Study.”