WASHINGTON--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Approaching the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Medicare prescription drug benefit (Part D), a nationally representative survey released today finds that an overwhelming nine out of 10 seniors with Medicare prescription drug coverage are satisfied. Ninety-seven percent report that their coverage works well, and nearly three out of four seniors say it works “very well.” Additionally, the survey results show that overall satisfaction remains constant at 90 percent from the previous year and in line with the upward trend from 78 percent to 90 percent seen since the Part D program was first implemented in 2006.
“As an individual’s needs change over time, Part D enrollees could be encouraged to regularly explore their options to ensure chose a plan that is best for them.”
“Ten years after becoming law, it is clear that seniors remain happy with their Part D coverage and that the program is meeting their healthcare needs,” said Mary R. Grealy, Chairman of Medicare Today and President of the Healthcare Leadership Council. “While we must do more to improve overall awareness of program options and resources, we are seeing consistently high satisfaction rates across all major demographic groups surveyed. This demonstrates the important role that Medicare Part D plays in the lives of seniors and people with disabilities. Congress should note this fact before considering any proposed changes to Part D.”
Among the other key findings:
Part D Reliability at Its Highest Level: Those feeling “peace of mind” by having Part D coverage reached an all-time high level of 96 percent this year, with 73 percent saying they feel a “great deal” of peace of mind and 23 percent saying they feel “some” peace of mind.
While satisfaction rates remain high, the survey finds that there is still an opportunity for beneficiaries to better utilize existing resources when they’re exploring different plan options.
“More than half of seniors still are not aware of all the tools and services available to them to help with plan comparisons,” said Mark Richards, Senior Vice President of KRC Research. “As an individual’s needs change over time, Part D enrollees could be encouraged to regularly explore their options to ensure chose a plan that is best for them.”
These helpful resources include the Medicare Plan Finder that helps users compare Medicare prescription drug plans and includes a 5-star plan rating system, the Medicare & You Handbook with a comprehensive list of plans in a user’s area, the 1-800-MEDICARE phone line, and counselors in every state who can provide in-person or over-the-phone assistance. This year’s findings also show that 78 percent of seniors who have switched from one plan to another since they first enrolled said it isn’t difficult to switch, which may be reassuring to those who would like to shop around, but haven’t.
“The fact that we are seeing such high Part D satisfaction rates among minority groups is incredibly reassuring,” said Richards. “This means that the program is working well for the minority communities and is achieving what Congress envisioned ten years ago - providing necessary prescription medication coverage to all seniors who need it.”
Multiple Factors Drive High Satisfaction: Of those surveyed, 95 percent say their plan is convenient to use (a six percent increase from 2006), 84 percent say both their premiums and co-pays are affordable, and 88 percent say that their Part D plan is meeting their expectations.
Seniors Know What to Look for in a Part D Plan: Seniors believe that a variety of factors are important when deciding on a Part D plan. Eighty-eight percent think that the co-pays or co-insurance amounts are important, 86 percent believe that identifying the pharmacies where they could use their benefit to purchase their medicines is important, and 81 percent believe that the quality ratings of the plan are important to examine.
High Satisfaction Seen across Major Demographic Groups: High satisfaction levels within African American (95 percent) and Hispanic (94 percent) constituencies, as well as within various income levels (93 percent for both those earning less than $15,000 per year or more than $50,000 per year), reinforce the overall findings of a successful program. Additionally, 92 percent of men and 89 percent of women are satisfied with their coverage.
Seniors Rely on the Program: This year, 72 percent of beneficiaries said that they’re better off now than before they had Part D coverage – a four percent increase from last year. Eighty-six percent of seniors fear that eliminating Part D would increase their out-of-pocket prescription costs, and without a plan, 62 percent say they would be forced to cut back or eliminate some prescription regimens – a nine percent increase from 2012.
Seniors Would Recommend Coverage to Others: 89 percent of Part D enrollees say they would recommend the program to someone considering Medicare enrollment.
Medicare Today and KRC Research have conducted this survey annually since 2006. To download a copy of the survey, please visit www.MedicareToday.org.
About the Survey
KRC Research conducted a nationally representative (random-digit dial) landline telephone survey of 2,274 seniors 65 years and older from July 22 - August 4, 2013. Of those, KRC interviewed a total of 901 seniors with Medicare prescription drug plans (444 with stand-alone prescription drug plans and 457 with Medicare Advantage plans).
About Medicare Today
The Healthcare Leadership Council (HLC), a coalition of chief executives from all disciplines within the healthcare system, launched Medicare Today in November 2004 to reach out to Medicare beneficiaries who needed reliable information on how to get the greatest value from the new Medicare benefits provided by the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003 (MMA). The Healthcare Leadership Council administers the partnership of over 400 national and local organizations including National Association of Family Physicians and National Alliance for Hispanic Health. Medicare Today develops innovative tools for use by all partners, commissions research studies, and undertakes earned media efforts and outreach to inform beneficiaries about the value of the new benefits under the MMA.