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A Third of Medicare Clients Unfamiliar With Benefits

Findings cut across race, education levels, and could affect quality of health care, study says

TUESDAY, Nov. 25 (HealthDay News) -- How well a person on Medicare understands the program's benefits affects their access to health care, a new study says.

The report, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found that a third of the surveyed Medicare beneficiaries from across the United States considered themselves as being unfamiliar or very unfamiliar with their program's benefits.

The lack of understanding was widespread across demographic groups although blacks, Hispanics, enrollees in Medicare managed care plans, beneficiaries with lower incomes and less formal education tended to be less familiar than other groups.

"Beneficiaries' understanding of their health benefits ultimately may affect the quality and outcomes of their care. Well designed educational interventions or policies simplifying Medicare benefit programs could have a significant effect on beneficiaries' abilities to get needed care," principal author Robert O. Morgan, a professor of Management, Policy and Community Health at the University of Texas School of Public Health, said in a news release issued by the journal's publisher.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has more about Medicare.

-- Kevin McKeever

SOURCE: Wiley-Blackwell, news release, Nov. 18, 2008

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