About 95% of Medicare beneficiaries are concerned about the impact of inflation on health care costs, with 45% saying costs have already increased because of inflation, recently research from eHealth found.
eHealth, based in Santa Clara, California, is a privately held online health insurance marketplace. The survey collected responses online in July with 2,519 participants. Respondents are Medicare beneficiaries who purchased a Medicare Advantage, Medicare Supplement, or Medicare Part D plan from eHealth. Nine out of 10 of the participants live on a fixed income, according to the report.
Of those who said they were worried about the impact of inflation on health care costs, 49% said they were “very worried”, 34% said they were “somewhat worried”, 12% said they were “somewhat worried” and 4% said they were not worried at all.
The areas that Medicare beneficiaries are most concerned about are increased prescription costs and Medicare Part B premiums, both at 65%. After that, 60 percent are concerned about higher co-pays and deductibles, and 57 percent are concerned 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 that 30% of respondents could no longer afford their Medicare premiums, while 14% said an increase of 5% or less would make their premiums unaffordable. Another 15% say a 5% to 10% increase would make their premiums unaffordable.
For drug costs, 52% say a 10% increase would be prohibitive, and 26% say prescription costs are already prohibitive. 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 respondents also said they want the government to step in with these drug costs, with 86 percent saying Medicare should negotiate directly with drug companies to reduce costs. Another 88% said they would feel less concerned about health care cost inflation if the government took action.
The government just might do that.
Currently a bill is being considered in the Senate that would reduce the federal deficit by $288 billion over 10 years and reduce out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. It would also limit drug price increases for Medicare and private insurance.
“Seniors on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable to the impact of inflation on health care costs,” eHealth CEO Fran Soistman said in news release. “Our research shows that the effects of inflation are immediate and that senior citizens are concerned about their ability to afford monthly premiums and other health care costs.”
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