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Six in Ten Say Family Put Off Medical Care Due to Cost
Date:4/22/2009

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While Medicare is valued by the public, many Americans under age 65 are concerned that the program will not be there for them when they need it. More than eight in ten (85%) are "very" or "somewhat" concerned that the program benefits available to seniors today will not be available when they retire. Three in four Americans say either the program is already in financial crisis (30%) or is facing major financial problems (44%). At the same time, though, more incorrectly believe that Social Security will be first to face a major financial shortfall (52%, compared to 39% who correctly named Medicare).

The survey suggests the public recognizes that rising health care costs are a primary culprit in Medicare's financial troubles: eight in ten cite this as a "major reason" for the program's difficulties, putting it at the top of a list of seven possible causes. But at the same time, roughly seven in ten say that "doctors and hospitals charge too much" and "too much fraud in the program" are also major reasons for the impending financial problems, causes which are seen as secondary by many experts.

Despite widespread concern about Medicare's solvency, most Americans are not interested in reform proposals that require personal sacrifice. The most popular option is to allow the government "to negotiate with drug companies for lower drug prices" (86% favor), followed by having the program pay for new treatments and technologies only if they provide better results (75%). The Medicare changes detailed earlier as possible revenue raisers are next in popularity, but it should be noted that seniors are less supportive -- only half favor reducing payments to insurer plans or providers. About half the public (53%) would support requiring higher income seniors to pay higher Medicare premiums. Proposals that would more broadly impact individuals -- such as raising payroll taxes, raising the age of eligibility for Medica
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SOURCE Henry J. Kaiser Foundation
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