A study from the Commonwealth Fund found that adults receiving health care through Medicare receive higher quality care than those who have insurance through their employers or purchase their own coverage.
The report concluded that Medicare beneficiaries are both the most satisfied with their insurance, and also the least likely to have problems paying medical bills. Fifty-eight percent of adults with individual insurance report spending 10 percent or more of their income on medical costs, compared to only 29 percent of adults with medicaid. Similarly, the study found that “only 13 percent of Medicare beneficiaries were unable to pay for basic necessities such as food or rent or used up all their savings to cover medical bills, compared to 27 percent of adults with employer-based insurance and 33 percent with individual insurance.”
The findings of the study are especially pertinent as Republicans attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act. As ThinkProgress noted earlier this month, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act would put the Medicare system in disarray and would make it impossible for Medicare to pay doctors. The authors of the Commonwealth study noted the political turmoil surrounding Medicare:
Given the evidence that people covered by Medicare tend to feel more satisfied with their insurance plan, particularly compared to those covered by nongroup insurance plans, offering traditional Medicare coverage to the nonelderly population not on Medicare through state insurance exchanges may be an option to consider. In addition, offering a choice of traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans to the nonelderly population would build on Medicare’s wide provider network and experience in making care available to more Americans at lower costs.
In the midst of trying to decrease deficits and reform the health care system, the Commonwealth’s study highlights the potential for the expansion of public health care programs. The positive experiences of Medicare beneficiaries only further substantiate the benefits of such programs.