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Multiple Medicare Advantage Choices Confound Seniors

When it comes to health care choices for the elderly, less is more, according to a recent study reported in the Harvard Gazette.

The study, conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School, is set to be published in the September issue of Health Affairs.

Curious as to what impact the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 had on enrollment in standard Medicare versus Medicare Advantage programs, the researchers examined 21,815 enrollment decisions made by 6,672 people spanning the years 2004-2007.

Their analysis indicated that seniors appreciated a variety of health care options, but only up to a certain point.

With regards to the Medicare Advantage program, seniors would continue to enroll in more plans as long as their number of plan options remained at 15 or below. Once their number of options exceeded 30, the researchers witnessed fewer enrollments, leading them to conclude that there is only so much choice that Medicare participants are willing to deal with.

According to the study authors, the high number of choices offered by some Medicare Advantage programs is probably too much for seniors to sift through. So, they opt to go with regular Medicare as a way of simplifying their lives. The researchers posit that, in some cases, cognitive impairment may also play a role in an aging person’s inability to choose from too many options.

Previous research, led by scientists from Cornell University and published in the journal Psychology and Aging, lends credence to the findings of the Harvard study.

The Cornell researchers set out to test whether a person’s age had an impact on the number of choices they preferred to have.

By comparing the questionnaire results of a group of 99 college undergraduates to those of a group of 102 seniors, the study found that, as a person ages, their desire for choice also diminishes.
Source: agingcare.com

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