TUESDAY, July 24 (HealthDay News) -- A comparison of patient experiences with Medicare and employer-sponsored insurance suggests that there are more negative experiences and less satisfaction among individuals with private plans, according to a study published online July 18 in Health Affairs.
Karen Davis, Ph.D., from the Commonwealth Fund in New York City, and colleagues used the results from a national health insurance survey conducted in 2010 to compare the experience of people covered under Medicare with those of nonelderly adults covered by employer-sponsored plans and non-group insurance. Results were also compared with those of a survey conducted in 2001.
The researchers found that, compared with Medicare beneficiaries, individuals with employer-sponsored coverage were more likely to forgo needed care, experience access problems due to cost, and experience medical bill problems. In addition, they were less satisfied with their coverage. For the subset of beneficiaries aged 65 years and older, those enrolled in the private Medicare Advantage program were less likely to have premiums and out-of-pocket costs exceeding 10 percent of their income, compared with those in traditional Medicare. However, these patients were also more likely than those with traditional Medicare to rate their insurance poorly and report cost-related access problems.
"The survey results suggest that simply shifting more beneficiaries into private plans could leave them at increased risk for negative insurance experiences," the authors write. "As the debate continues on how to reform the health care system to reduce costs and put the federal budget on a more sustainable track, it is critical to realize that problems faced by the health care system are not limited to Medicare."
One author disclosed financial ties to the health care industry.
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