Press Releases
November 5, 2019

Better Medicare Alliance Responds to New Reports on High Out-of-Pocket Expenses in Traditional Medicare

Studies draw sharp contrast with latest findings on Medicare Advantage’s protections for low- and modest-income populations

Washington, D.C. – Better Medicare Alliance, an advocacy group of more than 400,000 beneficiaries and nearly 140 ally organizations supporting Medicare Advantage (MA), responded today to a pair of studies published by Health Affairs and Kaiser Family Foundation detailing beneficiaries’ struggles with high out-of-pocket costs in Traditional Medicare.

In the Health Affairs study, researchers from Harvard University and the Commonwealth Fund found that 53 percent of seriously ill Traditional Medicare beneficiaries “reported having a serious problem paying a medical bill of any kind,” while 23 percent reported being unable to pay for basic necessities.

Similarly, Kaiser Family Foundation findings showed that Traditional Medicare beneficiaries spent an average of $2,294 annually on monthly premiums. Worse, beneficiaries ages 85 and older spent $10,307 a year on total out-of-pocket costs.

In contrast, MA plans have meaningful consumer cost protections, including annual limits on out-of-pocket spending for all enrollees, low premiums on average $23 per month, and extra benefits not available in Traditional Medicare for no additional cost. Half of MA beneficiaries choose $0 premium plans. Recent research shows that MA beneficiaries report $1,276 less in total annual spending and lower cost burden than their Traditional Medicare counterparts.

“These findings reinforce the importance of a simple, clear and understandable enrollment process with full information on the choices available to beneficiaries so they can make an informed decision for themselves,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. “For those Medicare beneficiaries who are squeezed by health care costs, a $0 premium Medicare Advantage plan with the peace of mind of an annual limit on out-of-pocket expenses could be the right choice. As open enrollment continues, we will work to ensure that beneficiaries are active choosers in these deeply personal health coverage decisions.”

Learn more about Medicare Advantage’s protections for low- and modest-income individuals here.


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