Friday, October 2, 2009

Everybody hates Medicare except people on Medicare

We all know from listening to people like Conservatives that Medicare is that awful "socialist" method of providing health insurance coverage for the elderly that everybody hates, particularly Medicare recipients and is way too expensive to administer. So how does Medicare stack up against private health insurers in administrative cost and customer satisfaction?

It seems everybody hates Medicare except Medicare recipients.

The following findings are from a nation-wide survey involving 3,501 adults conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates for the Commonwealth Fund in June-October 2007 comparing Medicare and employer-based health insurance coverage. See

· Medicare beneficiaries are more satisfied with their insurance coverage. Only 8 percent of elderly Medicare beneficiaries rated their insurance “fair or poor,” in contrast with 18 percent of individuals with employer-based insurance. Thirty-two percent of Medicare beneficiaries had at least one negative insurance experience, compared with 44 percent of those covered by an employer plan.

· Medicare beneficiaries report easier access to physicians. Ten percent of Medicare beneficiaries’ physicians did not accept their insurance, compared with 17 percent of respondents with employer-sponsored plans.

· Medicare beneficiaries are less likely to report not getting needed services. Twelve percent of elderly Medicare beneficiaries reported going without care, such as prescribed medications or recommended tests, because of cost restraints. Of individuals with employer-based plans, 26 percent reported experiencing these cost/access issues.

· Medicare beneficiaries are sicker and poorer but report fewer medical bill problems. Elderly Medicare beneficiaries were more likely to rate their health as fair or poor than the employer-coverage group (28% vs. 11%); more likely to have multiple chronic conditions (38% vs. 11%); and more likely to have incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level (51% vs. 27%). Yet, Medicare beneficiaries were less likely to report a medical bill problem than those covered by employer plans.

And, Medicare costs a lot less to administer.

Additionally, Medicare appears to cost a lot less to administer. Administrative costs of Medicare as a percent of claims is estimated to be between 2% and 5.2% depending upon how administrative cost is calculated vs. 8.9% to 16.7% (and possibly as high as 25%) for private insurance. See

Wait a minute, hold the presses--Could Medicare be doing something right?

No comments: