Rights group: Beneficiaries struggle under Medicare

Thursday, January 23, 2014

NEW YORK – Beneficiaries find Medicare expensive and confusing, the Medicare Rights Center has found. 

The center’s findings are based on an analysis of more than 14,000 calls made to its national helpline in 2012.

“This analysis of our national helpline makes clear that too many people with Medicare are burdened by high healthcare costs, and too many struggle to navigate the complexities of the Medicare program,” said Joe Baker, president, in a release.

The center found that Medicare households spend 14% of their budgets on health care, versus 5% for non-Medicare households.

It also found that a lack of accurate information led newly enrolling beneficiaries to face late enrollment penalties, gaps in coverage and delayed treatment.

Additionally, the center found an inefficient appeals system and constantly changing coverage rules pose barriers to medical care. 

The center calls for expanded access to and automatic enrollment in low-income assistance programs, a streamlined and accessible appeals process, and better communications with those transitioning into Medicare. 

“Both members of Congress and the administration should view this report as a call to action,” Baker said. “Now is the time to seek solutions that make Medicare a fairer, simpler and more affordable benefit.”

Founded in 1989, the Medicare Rights Center is a nonprofit organization that helps beneficiaries understand their rights and benefits under Medicare.