Seniors love Medicare Advantage

Most seniors are satisfied with their Medicare Advantage coverage and costs, according to a new poll from Morning Consult.

The findings help bolster the insurance industry's case against the Obama administration's most recent proposal to decrease Medicare Advantage payment rates, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported. A group of 53 U.S. Senators and America's Health Insurance Plans oppose the rate cut, saying that lowered reimbursement rates have cut payments by 10 percent in the last two years.

Based on a survey of almost 4,000 seniors, Morning Consult found that 80 percent of Medicare Advantage members are satisfied with overall costs of the plans, whereas 68 percent are satisfied with traditional Medicare plan costs. What's more, 86 percent of seniors are satisfied with Medicare Advantage benefits, compared with a 77 percent satisfaction with traditional Medicare benefits.

Overall, 88 percent of Medicare Advantage members are satisfied with their plans, and overall satisfaction of traditional Medicare is 85 percent, the survey found.

The high satisfaction rates are largely due to Medicare Advantage plans providing more benefits and requiring members to pay fewer out-of-pocket costs than traditional Medicare, Robert Berenson, a Medicare expert at the Urban Institute who previously served on the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, told Morning Consult.

"Medicare Advantage plans provide better benefits, and overall costs are less, but plans get paid more--with favorable selection--to be able to do that," he said.

Such satisfaction could explain how Medicare Advantage plans have continued to grow, with membership increasing by 4.6 million people (41 percent) during the past year, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

It also sheds light on why so many Medicare Advantage members come from traditional Medicare. A study published earlier this year found that at least half of new Medicare Advantage enrollees switched from Medicare each year.

To learn more:
- here's the Morning Consult survey and article