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Medicare Beats Private Plans for Patient Satisfaction: Survey
Date:7/19/2012

THURSDAY, July 19 (HealthDay News) -- Older Americans enrolled in Medicare health plans have better access to care and are less likely to have problems paying their medical bills than people who insure themselves or receive coverage through their employers, according to a new study.

As the U.S. government considers proposals to cut Medicare spending, researchers from the Commonwealth Fund, a private health-policy advocacy foundation, cautioned that the health and financial security of people on traditional Medicare plans could suffer if policy makers move them to private Medicare Advantage plans. They noted that those enrolled in these private plans are less satisfied with their insurance and have more problems receiving the care they need.

"Policies designed to move the elderly out of Medicare and into private plans need to be carefully designed, so as not to expose beneficiaries to the poorer access to care currently experienced by many working-age adults with private insurance," said Kristof Stremikis, senior researcher at the Commonwealth Fund, in an organization news release.

The study was based on a 2010 health insurance survey conducted by the Commonwealth Fund that involved more than 4,000 U.S. adults.

Although only 8 percent of people with Medicare rated their insurance as fair or poor, 20 percent of adults covered by an employer-sponsored plan and 33 percent of those who purchase their own insurance reported dissatisfaction with their coverage.

In 2010, the study found, 23 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were unable to afford the care they needed. The same was true for 37 percent of those who received insurance through their jobs.

Meanwhile, those with employer-sponsored health plans and those who bought their own insurance were nearly twice as likely to report problems with their medical bills than people with Medicare, the study found.

The researchers said coverage of Medicare be
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