New study: Elderly Medicare beneficiaries most satisfied with their health insurance
Elderly beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare plans are more satisfied with their health insurance, have better access to care, and are less likely to have problems paying medical bills than people who get insurance through employers or those who purchase coverage on their own, according to a new Commonwealth Fund study published today in Health Affairs. The study also found that beneficiaries enrolled in private Medicare Advantage plans are less satisfied with their insurance than those with a traditional Medicare plan, and more likely to experience access problems.
The study, "Medicare Beneficiaries Less Likely To Experience Cost- And Access-Related Problems Than Adults With Private Coverage," by Commonwealth Fund researchers Karen Davis, Kristof Stremikis, Michelle Doty, and Mark Zezza, finds that only 8 percent of Medicare beneficiaries rated their insurance as fair or poor, compared with 20 percent of adults with employer insurance and 33 percent who purchased insurance on their own. As the federal government weighs proposals to cut Medicare spending, the analysis, based on results from The Commonwealth Fund Biennial Health Insurance Survey of 2010, suggests shifting Medicare beneficiaries into private plans could put the elderly at greater risk for not getting needed health care and being less satisfied with their insurance.
The study finds that Medicare beneficiaries have better access to care and greater financial protection than adults with private coverage. In 2010 about one-fourth (23%) of Medicare beneficiaries went without needed health care because of costs, compared with 37 percent of those with employer coverage. Adults with employer-based insurance (39%) and individual insurance (39 %) reported medical bill problems at almost double the rate of Medicare beneficiaries (21 %). The study finds that while health care access and medical bill problems worsened for adults with all types of coverage over the past decade, Medicare continued to provide better coverage during that time period.
"Medicare continues to do better than employer-sponsored and individual plans when it comes to providing people with good access to health care and adequate protection from burdensome medical bills," said Stremikis, senior researcher at The Commonwealth Fund. "Policies designed to move the elderly out of Medicare and into private plans need to be carefully designed, so as not to expose beneficiaries to the poorer access to care currently experienced by many working-age adults with private insurance."
The study found that those with individual and employer-based coverage were far more likely than Medicare beneficiaries to incur high out-of-pocket costs. Twenty-nine percent of elderly adults with Medicare reported spending 10 percent or more of their income on medical costs, compared to 37 percent of adults with employer-based insurance and 58 percent with individual insurance. Only 13 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were unable to pay for basic necessities such as food or rent or used up all their savings to cover medical bills, compared to 27 percent of adults with employer-based insurance and 33 percent with individual insurance.
Medicare Advantage vs. Traditional Medicare
Within Medicare, satisfaction rates differed depending on whether beneficiaries were enrolled in traditional Medicare plans or in Medicare Advantage plans offered by private insurance companies. Fifteen percent of elderly people with Medicare Advantage rated their insurance as fair or poor, compared with just six percent of those with traditional Medicare coverage.
The study also found that although Medicare Advantage enrollees were less likely to spend 10 percent or more of their income on premiums and out-of-pocket costs, they were more likely to report cost-related access problems than elderly adults with traditional Medicare. Thirty-two percent of beneficiaries with Medicare Advantage reported at least one access problem due to cost, compared with 23 percent of those with traditional coverage. The authors say this may in part reflect Medicare Advantage beneficiaries' experience with private HMO plans that offer lower premiums in return for limited access to a smaller network of providers.
The authors conclude that "in the policy debates over the Federal budget deficit, the affordability of Medicare, and the expansion of health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, listening to the experiences of individuals, whether covered by Medicare or private employer insurance, is important." Given the more positive experiences of those covered by Medicare, states may want to consider offering traditional Medicare coverage to non-elderly individuals through the state exchanges to be set up in 2014.
"As we expand insurance and move toward near-universal coverage, it is imperative that we ensure health plans provide financial protection and good access to care," said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. "The achievements of Medicare in fulfilling the goals of health insurance coverage for beneficiaries can provide important lessons for the entire U.S. health system."
More information: A summary of the report, including a link to the study on the Health Affairs Web site, will be available on the Commonwealth Fund Web site on July 18, 2012 at: www.commonwealthfu… ce-Cost.aspx
The study data came from the Commonwealth Fund 2010 Health Insurance Survey, a nationally representative telephone survey of 4,005 adults, age nineteen or older, living in the continental United States. The survey was conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International from July 14 to November 30, 2010 using an overlapping dual-frame survey of land-line phones and cell phones. The survey oversampled adults from telephone exchanges in geographic areas with a high density of low-income households. The final sample consisted of 2,550 interviews conducted by landline phone and 1,455 interviews conducted by cell phone, including 637 in households with no land-line phone. The survey was a twenty-five- minute telephone interview administered in English or Spanish. In this study we restricted the analysis to a sample of 3,033 adults ages 19-64 and 940 adults age 65 and older.
Journal reference: Health Affairs
Provided by Commonwealth Fund
- Drug coverage of Medicare beneficiaries with kidney failure -- some surprising findings Mar 08, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Extra payments to Medicare Advantage plans to total $11.4 billion in 2009 May 04, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Complex choices in Medicare Advantage program may overwhelm seniors, study finds Aug 18, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Poor understanding of medicare leads to worse healthcare access Nov 18, 2008 | not rated yet | 0
- Experts favor broad medicare reforms to control costs and foster health-care innovations Nov 03, 2009 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
(Medical Xpress)—Health care spending is much higher for older Americans than for younger adults and children, on average, and analysts have said that increasing spending leads to longer life expectancy.
Health 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—High blood pressure is something that has traditionally been a problem in Scotland, but might there be a link to our climate?
Health 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A report published today shows a 2.6% decrease in the amount of alcohol sold per adult in Scotland in the year following the introduction of the Alcohol etc. (Scotland) Act in October 2011.
Health 1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0
New mothers throughout Australia are needed to help QUT sleep researchers investigate whether the disrupted sleep experienced by mothers when caring for their new baby raises the risk of injury while driving.
Health 3 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Research presented today shows that high-fructose corn syrup can cause behavioural reactions in rats similar to those produced by drugs of abuse such as cocaine. These results, presented by addiction expert Francesco Leri, ...
43 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
On May 22, JoVE will publish details of a technique to measure the health of human genetic material in relation to a patient's age. The method is demonstrated by the laboratory of Dr. Gil Atzmon at New York's Albert Einste ...
42 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
New research shows that craving drugs such as nicotine can be visualized in specific regions of the brain that are implicated in determining the value of actions, in planning actions and in motivation. Dr. Alain Dagher, from ...
41 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists supported by the National Institutes of Health have a new theory as to why a woman's fertility declines after her mid-30s. They also suggest an approach that might help slow ...
2 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Is it permissible to harm one to save many? Those who tend to say "yes" when faced with this classic dilemma are likely to be deficient in a specific kind of empathy, according to a report published in the scientific journal ...
5 hours ago | not rated yet | 0 |
Medical researchers discover new ways to target, develop and design drugs to prevent and treat viral infection
Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a new drug target, developed a new drug and identified a new way to design drugs—all of which could be a winning combination in the battle against viruses.
2 hours ago | 4 / 5 (1) | 0 |