Though seniors are the ones most
affected by rising healthcare costs, few older Americans are taking steps that
would help them reduce those costs, reserving their due diligence for other
living expenses, says a new national survey.
According to "The
Cost of Complacency" survey commissioned by WellCare Health Plans,
seniors are more likely to comparison shop for groceries, gas, cable and
internet service, and even travel deals, than they are to shop for a Medicare
plan. In fact, only 33 percent of seniors reported they comparison shop for a
Medicare plan at all.
And despite nearly universal
consensus among experts that seniors should review their healthcare coverage
every year, the research revealed that only about 40 percent review their
Medicare plan annually to determine if they're getting the best deal. They're
more likely to review their cable and internet plan (44 percent) and their
homeowners/automotive insurance (46 percent) each year than their Medicare
plan, and nearly as likely to review their cell phone plan (35 percent) as they
are their healthcare coverage.
The findings come at a time when
many seniors are coming into Medicare with more health conditions than previous
generations, and with most Medicare plans changing from year to year.
Americans on the cusp of Medicare
in their late fifties have more serious health problems than people at the same
ages did 10 to 15 years ago, according to a study published in the journal
Health Affairs. The Kaiser Family Foundation said that out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare accelerate with
age, and the growth in spending between younger seniors and older seniors is
drastic: the percentage of healthcare spending doubles from age 65 to 69 to age
70 to 79. Yet the new survey showed that 63 percent of respondents don't bother
to review their Medicare plan for the best deal because they were satisfied
with the plan they were on previously.
When it comes to priorities,
seniors put a premium on cost. A full 77 percent of respondents ranked cost --
including premiums, copays and deductibles -- as the single most important
factor when shopping for a plan.
What may be relevant for payers
and providers to consider is that many seniors confess to ignoring reviewing
their coverage each year because the process evokes negative emotions. One in
five seniors report the process of reviewing their coverage to be a painful,
frustrating and confusing, and women are 29 percent more likely than men to
view reviewing their coverage to be an awful experience.
In fact, one in four respondents
report reviewing their Medicare plan was among the top two most unpleasant
experiences, in comparison to things ranging from getting a colonoscopy to
doing their taxes to renewing their driver's license.
Despite the difficulties they
encounter in reviewing their coverage, 57 percent of seniors choose to review
their plan by themselves rather than seek out help. And, surprisingly, seniors
are least likely to involve their adult children or other caregivers in the
here for the original article from Healthcare Finance.