The new survey also quantifies the importance of plan choice to seniors. 75 percent of respondents say it is important to them to have a variety of plans from which to choose, and 74 percent said they would be concerned about any moves to limit those choices.
Medicare Today chairperson Mary R. Grealy said the new survey underscores the importance of prudence in making changes to Medicare Part D that could undermine the program’s success.
“The Part D program has transformed the lives of millions of seniors. It’s widely seen as affordable, easy to use and a good value,” she said. “Policymakers should act with care before altering the structure that has made Medicare Part D one of the federal government’s most successful programs, one that advances the health of beneficiaries and is an ally to the pocketbooks of both seniors and taxpayers.”
Other key findings in the survey include:
- 86 percent of seniors say their Part D co-pays are affordable, with 85 percent saying the same of their monthly premiums.
- Two in three seniors (67 percent) say without Part D they would be unable to fill all of the prescriptions their doctors prescribe.
- 68 percent say they are better off today than they were before they had Part D coverage and 71 percent have greater peace of mind because of their drug coverage.
- Only 27 percent are aware of Medicare’s current ratings system for assessing plan quality, and only 38 percent are aware there are Medicare counselors in their state they can contact for assistance.
“The survey reveals that there is still work to be done in educating seniors on the tools and resources available to help them compare or switch plans if necessary,” said Mark David Richards, Senior Vice President of KRC Research. “It may be reassuring for seniors to learn that 81 percent of beneficiaries who have shopped around and decided to change plans said it wasn’t difficult to switch.”
These results come just a few months after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed regulatory changes to Medicare Part D that generated significant controversy, including a move to limit the number of Part D plans available. Following opposition from a wide variety of health care stakeholders concerned about availability and affordability of Part D coverage, CMS later announced it would not pursue action on several controversial provisions of the proposed rule at this time.
Medicare Today and KRC Research have conducted this survey annually since 2006. Full survey results can be found at www.medicaretoday.org.
About the Survey
KRC Research conducted a nationally representative (random-digit dial) landline telephone survey of 1,619 seniors 65 years and older with Medicare coverage, of which 601 have a Medicare prescription drug plan. The survey was conducted from June 25 to July 6, 2014. The margin of error for a sample size of 601 is plus or minus four percentage points.