Thursday, July 23, 2015

Medicare and Medicaid Recipients Support Programs, Worry About Changes

Most Medicare and Medicaid recipients like the programs and don’t want to see any substantial changes made, according to the latest tracking poll by Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

A large majority (91 percent) of individuals covered by Medicare — government health insurance for senior citizens and people with disabilities — report positive experiences, while 86 percent of Medicaid recipients — government health insurance for lower-income people — also report positive experiences. These numbers are similar to the percent of individuals who report positive experiences with their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage (87 percent).

According to the poll, many Americans regard Medicare (77 percent) and Medicaid (63 percent) as “very important,” though fewer believe the programs are “working well” (60 percent for Medicare, 50 percent for Medicaid).

Medicare

While most respondents (70 percent) say they do not support significant changes to Medicare, just more than half (54 percent) worry the program won’t be able to provide the same level of benefits to future enrollees, and even more (68 percent) acknowledge changes are needed to keep Medicare sustainable.

When asked what — if any — changes should be made to the program, 87 percent say the federal government should be allowed to negotiate Medicare drug prices. Other favorable options include increasing Medicare premiums for wealthier seniors (58 percent) and reducing payments to Medicare Advantage plans (51 percent). Lower on the list are raising the eligibility age from 65 to 67 (39 percent), raising premiums for everyone (31 percent), and increasing cost-sharing for future beneficiaries (24 percent).

Medicaid

Similar as for Medicare, 62 percent of respondents oppose changes to Medicaid. Still, 32 percent (including 50 percent of Republicans) say they would prefer if Medicaid were turned into a block grant program, whereby states would decide which groups of people and what health care services they want to cover through federal grants.
Read the full results at KFF.

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