Medicare beneficiaries are more concerned about doctor networks than paying premiums

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Medicare beneficiaries would like to see the government move to lower the cost of prescription drugs through negotiation with pharmaceutical companies, as well as get expanded coverage for include dental, vision and hearing benefits.

These were among the findings of eHealth’s bi-annual Health Insurance Trends report, which also revealed that, while almost all (92%) of survey respondents wished for expansion of benefits, only half of those respondents would feel the same way if it would raise their coverage costs.

The report, compiled from more than 6,400 anonymous responses to surveys of the general population and of Medicare beneficiaries, also includes findings from a survey of more than 15 representatives from health insurance companies working with eHealth.

Irrespective of political affiliation, a majority of Medicare beneficiaries wanted to see the program continued in partnership between private healthcare companies and the government. Just 16% of overall respondents said they wanted the government to run the program alone, according to the report.

The survey also highlighted the desire by beneficiaries that health insurance companies do a better job at addressing the needs of diverse communities. Hispanic respondents were the least likely to feel that the health insurance options available to them address the medical needs of their communities, followed by Asian and Black respondents.


The report shed light on the way beneficiaries are feeling about the lingering effects of the pandemic, with nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents saying they would get a COVID-19 booster shot. However, that willingness declines to 55% if the shots are recommended once or twice a year.

“Consumer responses to COVID vaccines and social rules are nuanced and reveal unexpected contrasts and intersections,” the report noted. “The impact of the pandemic on health insurance companies themselves is less than might be expected.”

Out-of-pocket costs were an increasing concern for many enrollees, with 42% of general-population respondents admitting their biggest concern is paying out-of-pocket costs when they receive medical care, up from 33% in eHealth’s May 2021 report.

However, the report also found Medicare beneficiaries are more concerned about doctor networks than paying premiums.


Medicare and Medicaid populations must not be ignored in health-modernization efforts, said panelists during the recent HLTH conference in Boston.

The $1.75 trillion reconciliation spending package currently stalled in Congress would increase the number of Americans under the age of 65 who have health insurance coverage. Other proposals would add vision, hearing and dental benefits to original Medicare and would give Medicare the ability to negotiate drug prices – two features the eHealth survey indicates Medicare recipients favor.


“Regardless of party affiliation, most want the government to take action on drug costs, but they also value the role of private enterprise in Medicare,” the report noted. “When it comes to healthcare innovation and technology, more than half of the general population respondents say private enterprise does a better job than government. Only 18% think government does a better job.”

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