Deft Research recently published its 2022 AEP Gut Check Study based on a survey of 2,250 seniors in Original Medicare, Medicare Supplement, or Medicare Advantage (MA). The study findings can help MA plans make decisions about how to best reach seniors prior to the 2023 Annual Enrollment Period (AEP).

The study, a supplement to the firm’s Medicare Shopping and Switching Study, had a total of 2,251 responses from 1,177 seniors with an MA plan; 833 seniors with a MedSupp plan; and 236 with Original Medicare.

The findings feature seniors’ views on their current coverage and how likely they are to search for a new plan during the AEP, which channels they are likely to use when shopping for coverage, their use of agents and selection criteria, and their preferred advertising messaging and themes.

In an executive research brief about the study, George Dippel, executive vice president for Deft, predicts that inflation concerns may cause more seniors to actively search for a plan with more value this year.

Indeed, Dippel noted that research in March indicated that a quarter of seniors reported that inflationary pressures made their healthcare less affordable. This summer, the number of seniors who felt that way spiked to nearly 60 percent.

RELATED: Deft study explores factors that led seniors to switch during 2022 OEP and how MA plans can prevent disenrollments

What does an MA plan with more value mean? Dippel said that Deft research shows that more supplemental benefits with a larger allowance is the driving factor in product selection for low-income seniors as well as those turning 65. But, he warned, seniors who have had Medicare and MA plans for the last few cycles appear to be more dissatisfied with these benefits and allowances.


The latest Gut Check study shows that seniors “at risk” for leaving their plans during the upcoming AEP include those who feel as if their plan’s allowances cover fewer services than they thought, are smaller than they thought, and harder to use than they thought.

“In other words,” he wrote, “the very thing that has driven MA to new heights with current seniors, those aging in, and those with both Medicare and Medicaid may also be the very thing that propels them to look for ‘truer’ coverage this fall. It isn’t just more supplemental benefits with bigger allowances that matter to seniors when the value of their Medicare dollar is less.”

RELATED: Milliman study: Nearly all MA plans in 2022 offer supplemental benefits

In addition to those richer benefits and allowances, seniors must have a better understanding of these benefits, Dippel said, adding complete transparency is vital.

For more information on the study findings, email