A study was published in the journal Health Affairs which shows that Americans enrolled in Medicare have better access to care, and have less troubles than Americans who go through their employer for coverage, or have singular health coverage.
In 2010 a health insurance survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund surveyed more than 4,000 U.S. adults, on how happy they were with their health coverage as well as how many problems they experienced with their coverage.
Of those surveyed, only 8 percent of Americans with Medicare coverage rated their insurance as fair or poor, while 20 percent, more than twice as many people, who were covered by their employer rated their plan as fair or poor. Those with individual plans had the highest percentage of dissatisfaction 33 percent rating their plans as fair or poor. Medicare Advantage, the plan made available through commercial providers had a fair or poor reporting rate of 15 percent.
Similarly, Americans with coverage through their employer, and those who bought their own insurance were nearly twice as likely to report problems with their medical claims being paid correctly.
Those with individual or employer health plans were more likely to have high out-of-pocket expenses. Twenty nine percent of older adults on Medicare said they spent 10 percent or more of their income on medical costs, while 37 percent of those with coverage through their employer, and 58 percent with individual insurance reported the same.
While Congress considers cuts to Medicare spending, researchers from the private, non-partisan organization, Commonwealth Fund cautioned that forcing older Americans to take private healthcare coverage could have a negative impact on their healthcare.
Medicare also spends a significant amount less on administrative costs, than their commercial counterparts, a fact which contradicts what most Medicare opponents believe. Medicare administrative fees are just above 1 percent, while private healthcare administrative fees are between 10 and 15 percent.
A 2011 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance and Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Funds listed total Medicare expenditures of $522.8 billion for 2010, of which $7 billion was characterized as “administrative expenses.” That comes to 1.3 percent.
A 2008 study by the Congressional Budget Office, the nonpartisan bookkeepers of Congress. compiled by the McKinsey Global Institute, estimated administrative costs for private insurers at 12 percent.
One reason for Medicare members having an easier time is because their plan is simpler than most commercial health plans. Commercial plans use cost-shifting tactics to make the insured responsible for the bulk of their medical expenses, whether that be a high deductible or lower co-insurance rates, or at times not covering a service at all.
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