Reality check: During any insurance program’s annual enrollment period, most people end up staying with the status quo, if it’s an option, instead of picking a new plan.
- Fewer than one out of 10 seniors voluntarily switch from one private Medicare Advantage plan to another, according to new research from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
- The same holds true for Medicare’s private prescription drug plans.
- Most employers don’t usually change insurance carriers, often out of fear of angering workers, and keep plan options limited.
- Employees, after several reminders from HR, usually default to what they had.
- Fewer than half of people in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces actively re-enroll in new plans, even though the market was designed for comparison shopping.
- Medicaid enrollees in some states have no say in the private plans they get.
- With consumer products, you pretty much know what you’re getting. With health insurance, you’re making an educated guess of how much health care you’ll use, hoping that you’ll need none of it.
- Health insurance terms and policies also are confusing, which turns people off from the shopping process.
The big picture: Shopping for insurance is difficult enough for most people. Shopping for actual doctors, tests and services is even more difficult and less widespread, and likely won’t change if prices are unlocked.