Poor understanding of medicare leads to worse healthcare access
An outbreak of dengue fever in Cairns, in far north Queensland, continues to cause alarm as the number now affected has reportedly reached 50 and appears to be rising. Queensland Health says another 12 people are awaiting blood test results and six people have been admitted to hospital. Worse hit suburbs for the mosquito-borne disease
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A study appearing in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows that Medicare beneficiaries’ understanding of their healthcare benefits may affect their ability to access needed care effectively and could lead them to the delay or avoid seeking care.
In the study, 2,997 White, Black and Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries from across the United States were surveyed. About one-third of the respondents regarded themselves as being unfamiliar or very unfamiliar with their Medicare program. While Blacks and Hispanics were more likely than Whites to be unfamiliar with their Medicare benefits, poorer familiarity with the Medicare system was widespread and stretched across demographic groups.
Researcher Robert O. Morgan, principal author of the study and a professor of Management, Policy and Community Health at the University of Texas School of Public Health, said that familiarity with Medicare benefits is also lower among enrollees in Medicare managed care plans, as well as among beneficiaries with lower incomes and less formal education. However, the relationship between familiarity and healthcare access persisted even after controlling for all of these factors, as well as for overall exposure to the health care system.
“This is a problem that affects a substantial portion of the Medicare population and extends across races and ethnicities, and across educational and income levels,” Morgan said. “Beneficiaries’ understanding of their health benefits ultimately may affect the quality and outcomes of their care. Well designed educational interventions or policies simplifying Medicare benefit programs could have a significant effect on beneficiaries’ abilities to get needed care.”
Policymakers and economists often promote managed-care plans based on the assumption that they prevent the overuse of unnecessary surgical procedures or help steer patients to high-quality providers, compared to traditional fee-for-service insurance plans. A recent study by a researcher at UT Southwestern Medical Center, however, found that in the case of one common surgical procedure,
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Adults with severe heart failure see almost three times as many Medicare providers each year compared to a typical beneficiary, according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2008. An analysis conducted by researchers at the University of Colorado and Scios, Inc. showed that: Adults with severe heart failure see an
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Cuts to Medicare reimbursement of DXA undermine efforts to properly diagnose and treat osteoporosis and diminish quality of patient care. According to a paper published in the November issue of the Springer journal Osteoporosis International, Medicare reimbursement for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) has been cut to levels substantially below the cost to perform the procedure.
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Ninety-two percent of seniors enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit in 2008 are satisfied with their coverage according to a national phone survey by RetireSafe, a nationwide education and advocacy group for older Americans. The findings were not unexpected. Similar surveys conducted over the last year found the same results. “The universal
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The end-stage renal disease (ESRD) Medicare reform measures recently passed by Congress represent the most significant ESRD reforms in decades. These measures and how they will impact the practice of nephrology and patient care will be the topic of a session during the American Society of Nephrology (ASN) 41st Annual Meeting and Scientific Exposition in
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