Brett Arends’s ROI: Nearly 20% of seniors on Medicare are ‘underinsured’ — and Medicare Advantage is no better

by | Sep 22, 2023 | Stock Market

Medicare may be the closest America gets to “socialized medicine,” but a new survey reveals just how far it falls short of comprehensive, universal coverage. A stunning one-fifth of seniors on Medicare still count as “underinsured,” nearly a quarter are struggling to pay their premiums, and two seniors out of five admit they still can’t afford the healthcare they need, according to the survey from the Commonwealth Fund, a leading healthcare nonprofit.

And there seemed little if any difference across these measures between those on traditional Medicare and those on Medicare Advantage, the privatized system that now accounts for more than half the system.  The fund defined “underinsured” as someone whose health insurance still left them with out-of-pocket expenses over the past year equal to more than 10% of their income (or more than 5% for those whose incomes are less than twice the federal poverty level). According to Commonwealth’s Survey, some 22% of Medicare Advantage customers were “underinsured” in this way. The figure for those on Medicare who also had supplemental “medigap” insurance was just 13%. But the figures need context. Medicare Advantage customers have lower average incomes than those on traditional Medicare, which is apt to drive up the underinsurance count. Furthermore, the figure for those on Medicare without a supplemental plan was a staggering 33%. America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade association and lobbying organization for private health insurers, frequently p …

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