Some seniors confused about law and Medicare
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Some seniors confused about law and Medicare

September 17, 2013


About 17% of seniors incorrectly believe the Affordable Care Act replaces their Medicare with insurance policies purchased on line through the state and federal health insurance exchanges, according to a study released exclusively to USA TODAY.

“Some of my concerns were confirmed,” said Rebecca Rabbitt, vice president of government programs at Express Scripts. Even seniors doing their research — and they named everything from the government to TV to friends as sources — had a hard time discerning reality from fiction. “Even with the facts, it’s confusing,” she said.

Some of that confusion is intentional. Advertising has picked up from opponents to the law who would like to see it defunded. Some of it, Rabbitt said, comes because seniors said they don’t trust any one source for information, and some sources give different answers.

The confusion is causing seniors to make unnecessary decisions about spending, she said. Some are even going back to work.

“The fear of the unknown causes them to look at their budget,” she said. “They’re refilling prescriptions later, or skipping doses to make them last longer. That can lead to higher medical costs.”

The survey found about a third of seniors think the eligibility age goes up to 68 in January because of the law — also incorrect.

More than 1,000 Americans 65 and older answered questions last month in a survey conducted by Kelton for Express Scripts, an independent prescription-filling company.

Half believe their prescription costs in the “doughnut hole” coverage gap have increased — rather than going down by about $7 billion, according to government figures.

“Most seniors don’t understand the savings to the doughnut hole at all,” Rabbitt said. “Generally, their costs are not going to go up. Most people will see their costs go down.”

And one out of five seniors think they can enroll in Medicare programs through the exchanges, which is also incorrect. They will enroll as they always have. Exchanges are sites in each state where the uninsured will shop for and buy insurance. They open on Oct. 1.

Here’s what Rabbitt said seniors need to know: Medicare enrollment begins Oct. 15.

“They’re going to enroll the same way they have for the past six or seven years,” she said.

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