Most Medicare beneficiaries concerned about healthcare cost inflation, survey finds

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About 95% of Medicare beneficiaries are anxious about inflation’s impact on healthcare costs, with 45% saying costs have already increased because of inflation, a recent survey by eHealth found.

eHealth, based in Santa Clara, California, is a private online marketplace for health insurance. The survey collected responses online throughout July with 2,519 participants. The respondents are Medicare beneficiaries who purchased a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement or Medicare Part D plan from eHealth. Nine out of 10 of participants are living on a fixed income, according to the report.

Of those who said they worry about inflation’s impact on healthcare costs, 49% said they are “very worried,” 34% said they are “somewhat worried,” 12% said they are “a little worried” and 4% said they aren’t worried at all.

The areas Medicare beneficiaries are most concerned about are increased prescription costs and Part B Medicare premiums, both at 65%. After that, 60% are concerned about higher copays and deductibles and 57% are worried about higher premiums for other forms of Medicare coverage, the report found.

About half, or 49%, of Medicare beneficiaries are vulnerable to premium increases of 10% or less. The survey found 30% of respondents already can’t afford their Medicare premiums, while 14% said an increase of 5% or less would make their premiums unaffordable. Another 15% said an increase of 5% to 10% would make their premiums unaffordable.

For drug costs, 52% said a 10% increase would be unaffordable, with 26% saying prescription costs are already unaffordable. Another 16% said an increase of 5% or less would make their drug costs unaffordable, and 16% said an increase of 5% to 10% would make them unaffordable.

Most of the respondents also said they want the government to step in with these drug costs, with 86% saying Medicare should directly negotiate with drug companies to lower costs. Another 88% said they would feel less concerned about healthcare cost inflation if the government took action.

The government just might do that.

Currently, a bill is under consideration in the Senate that would reduce the federal deficit by $288 billion over 10 years, and decrease out-of-pocket spending by Medicare beneficiaries, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. It would also limit increases in drug prices for Medicare and private insurance.

“Seniors on a fixed income are particularly vulnerable to inflation’s impact on health care costs,” eHealth CEO Fran Soistman said in a news release. “Our survey shows the consequences of inflation are immediate and that senior citizens are concerned about their ability to afford monthly premiums and other health care costs.” 

Photo: Ta Nu, Getty Images