Filed Under:Health Insurance, Individual Health

Seniors resist switching Medicare plans, providers

President Lyndon Johnson uses the last of many pens to complete signing the Medicare bill into law in 1965. (AP Photo)
President Lyndon Johnson uses the last of many pens to complete signing the Medicare bill into law in 1965. (AP Photo)

Many older Americans who have Medicare coverage are willing to pay more to keep their coverage, and they say they are willing to make some small changes to hold down health costs.

But fewer than half say they are taking more aggressive steps to hold down health costs.

Analysts at Allsup, a company that sells Medicare plan selection services, have reported that finding in a summary of results from a telephone survey of 1,000 U.S. adults ages 65 and older who have Medicare coverage.

About 89 percent said they are extremely or somewhat satisfied with the Medicare coverage they have now, and 61 percent said they are willing to pay 5 percent more to keep their current coverage. About 32 percent said they would be willing to pay 20 percent more.

When a polling firm asked the survey participants about steps they would be willing to take to hold down health care costs, 88 percent said they would be willing to switch to generic drugs, or already have, and 74 percent said they would be willing to get, or already are getting, more preventive screenings.

About 17 percent said they already have switched doctors to save money, and 22 percent said they already have switched Medicare plans to save money.

Only 24 percent of the participants were in the "haven't done it but are willing to consider it" category for changing providers, and just 11 percent were in the "haven't done it, willing to consider it" category when it comes to changing health plans.

In other survey findings:

  • "The future of Medicare" ranked as a top retirement concern for 61 percent of the survey participants.
  • Having enough money to enjoy retirement ranked was a top retirement concern for 52 percent.
  • Paying for long-term care (LTC) was a top retirement concern for 43 percent. For the Allsup survey participants, worries about paying for LTC outranked concerns about paying for medical care, outliving money and paying for housing.

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