A majority of current Medicare beneficiaries, or 74%, are worried about the Medicare program’s long-term sustainability, a new survey shows.
The survey was published by eHealth, an online marketplace for health insurance. It was conducted in June and included responses from 3,582 Medicare beneficiaries. The report comes after the Medicare Board of Trustees predicted that funding for Medicare Part A will not be able to cover benefits by 2031.
About 20% of Medicare beneficiaries are “very worried” about the long-term sustainability of Medicare, 54% are “somewhat worried” and 25% are “not at all worried,” according to eHealth. This concern exists regardless of political opinions: About 74% of Republicans are worried and 76% of Democrats are worried. However, there’s more of a difference based on income: 25% of those with an annual income of less than $25,000 say they’re worried, versus 12% of those with an income of more than $100,000.
When asked if they’re worried about Medicare costs increasing or benefits being reduced, 35% said they’re very worried, 50% said they’re somewhat worried and 15% said they’re not worried. About 46% of those with annual incomes below $25,000 are very worried, versus 18% of those with incomes above $100,000.
Just about all, or 97%, of respondents said they feel “entitled” to have Medicare benefits after paying into the program. Still, 84% said that changes will be needed to make sure that Medicare is available in the future.
But if sacrifices had to be made in order to continue the Medicare program, many would not be willing to accept them. Nearly 60% of respondents said they wouldn’t accept increased costs or changes to benefits.
When asked what should be done to save the Medicare program, 47% said that payroll contributions should increase, 21% said the age for Medicare eligibility should be raised, 7% said premiums should increase, 4% said out-of-pocket costs should increase and 3% said benefits should be reduced. Another 40% said that none of these options are acceptable. Respondents could select multiple options.
In addition, many feel the government should be doing a better job when it comes to continuing the Medicare program. About 5% would give the government an A letter grade for what it’s doing to secure the future of Medicare, while 15% would give it a B, 36% would give it a C, 23% would give it a D and 21% would give it an F. Democrat voters were more likely to give a higher letter grade than Republican voters, however.
“After paying into Medicare for many years, current beneficiaries justifiably feel they are entitled to the benefits they’ve earned,” said eHealth CEO Fran Soistman in a news release. “Our new research shows that they are aware of, and care about, the long-term financial challenge of funding Medicare. However, it also highlights the challenges for elected leaders who want to do something about it.”
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