Deft Research surveyed more than 3,000 seniors to better understand their shopping and switching behavior during the most recent Annual Enrollment Period (AEP). RISE looks at three of the findings that indicate reasons members may shop around and switch carriers.

Deft’s annual report, published last Friday, is a must-read, providing in-depth insights into sales and marketing channel usage and trends to better understand what motivates shoppers, non-shoppers, and plan switchers. The 2021 study looks back on how the COVID-19 pandemic and the general election impacted consumers’ health insurance experience and what the findings may mean for the upcoming open enrollment period (OEP) and next year’s AEP.

This year’s survey had 3,478 responses:

  • 1,782 seniors with a 2020 Medicare Advantage (MA) plan
    1,412 seniors with a 2020 MedSupp plan
    1,312 with a 2020 standalone Part D plan
    284 in Original Medicare Only for 2020

An executive summary of the report indicates three reasons that motivate members to shop around for a different plan:

Dental benefit dissatisfaction: The report finds that MA members who were unhappy with their dental benefits were seven percent more likely to switch plans within carriers and five percent more likely to switch carriers than those who were satisfied with their dental coverage.

Customer service difficulties: MA members who were unable to reach a customer service representative to resolve an issue were 11 percent more likely to switch carriers. Customer service issues also were the reason behind a 12 percent greater likelihood that MedSupp enrollees switched carriers.

Supplemental benefits: The study found plans that made additions to their benefit offerings also saw a boost in enrollment at the county level among MA renewal plans between December and January. This was especially true for smaller and midsize country contract-plans. Deft found that plans that added some type of meal benefit saw an increase in enrollment. For example, county contract-plans with 50 or fewer members reported an increase of 3.2 percent.

For more information on the full results of the 2021 Medicare Shopping and Switching Study, email In addition, George Dippel, SVP client services at Deft Research will provide a deep dive into the survey findings at RISE’s upcoming virtual conference, Medicare Marketing & Sales Summit 2021. His recap of AEP 2020 will take place at 10:40 a.m. EST., Monday, Feb. 22, the first day of the main conference.