Beneficiaries Views of Medicare

By February 20, 2019 Commentary

eHealth conducted a survey of over 2000 consumers who purchased a Medicare plan through their websites in early 2019.   (EHealth Survey)   29% of these respondents said they were very satisfied and 46% said they were satisfied with their plan.  Only 6% were either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied.  Older beneficiaries tend to be more likely to say they are satisfied compared to younger ones, probably because they have been enrolled in the plan longer and if they weren’t happy they would have disenrolled.  People with higher incomes also tend to express higher levels of satisfaction.  33% said the monthly premium was the most important factor in selecting a plan; 31% said low out-of-pocket costs; 20% said coverage of their preferred doctors and 12% said coverage for drugs.  Older beneficiaries were more concerned with out-of-pocket costs than the monthly premium level, whereas younger enrollees had the opposite trend.  Interestingly, people with higher incomes also were more focussed on out-of-pocket costs.  23% of respondents were not confident that Medicare would last their lifetime and 41% had concerns about whether it would be available for their children.  Not surprisingly, older beneficiaries had less worries, while lower income ones had more concern.

To help keep Medicare around, 73% said caps should be placed on drug costs; 25% said doctors and hospitals should be paid less and 23% said non-Medicare consumers (i.e., not me) should be taxed more.  Men and those with higher incomes were more willing to see taxes raised.  (Let’s be clear, almost all Medicare beneficiaries have not paid as much into the system as they will get out of it; that is why the program is running out of money.  God forbid the people benefitting from a program should have to pay for it.)  68% of beneficiaries were worried about benefits being cut; 58% worry that fewer doctors will accept Medicare; 43% worry that they won’t be able to afford their plan and 23% worry about Medicare privatization (they should be so lucky and 35% of beneficiaries and all Part D drug plan enrollees already are privatized)  Low income people are obviously more likely to worry about affordability; women worry more about doctor participation and affordability.  41% said everyone should have access to Medicare; 42% said no.

40% said they would get medical care in a non-traditional setting, like a pharmacy, if it saves money; 27% said they would not do that.  Men are more willing than women to seek care in these settings and younger beneficiaries also had greater interest.  Other than a doctor, 37% would trust a pharmacist to provide medical advice; 65% would trust a physician’s assistant; 62% would trust a nurse practitioner and 6% would trust their insurer.  Higher income people are more willing to accept these advisors.  73% would use a blood pressure monitor if it improved care or saved money; 53% a heart rate monitor; 47% a blood sugar monitor and 33% a food nutrition tracker.  Wealthier beneficiaries have more willingness.  Fascinating facts and a useful glimpse for marketers.

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