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Medicare Rights Report Shows Enrollment, Coverage, and Affordability Issues Continue to be Challenges for People with Medicare

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Today, the Medicare Rights Center released its annual helpline trends report, which outlines ongoing challenges facing people with Medicare heard through thousands of calls to its national consumer helpline.

“Year after year, our findings from the analysis of our national helpline data show that too many older adults and people with disabilities have problems navigating the complexities of the Medicare program and affording their coverage. But there are straight-forward solutions for alleviating these challenges and strengthening the Medicare program as a whole,” said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, a national, nonprofit consumer service organization. “It’s time that the real-life experiences of people with Medicare who are trying to access needed health care are taken into account and acted on to improve the Medicare program.”

The report, Medicare Trends and Recommendations: An Analysis of 2016 Call Data from the Medicare Rights Center’s National Helplinere-examines the top three issues heard on Medicare Rights’ helpline in prior years. Each issue is demonstrated through clients’ stories heard on the helpline, which the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), state agencies, insurers, elected officials, and other stakeholders can use as a basis to strengthen the Medicare program for the more than 58 million people it serves.

Out of almost 17,000 questions posed by older adults, people with disabilities, and their caregivers in 2016, a variety of trends highlighted in the past annual Trends reports continue to stand out among the questions from helpline callers. In this report, we:

  • Revisit Part B enrollment as a confusing process for people transitioning from other types of health insurance coverage.
  • Identify Medicare Advantage plan coverage and network issues.
  • Highlight Medicare affordability concerns due to escalating Medicare Part D drug costs.

“The problems heard each year on the Medicare Rights helpline show the need for practical policy solutions to address some of the challenges faced by people with Medicare,” said Baker. “Members of Congress and the Administration should view this report as a continuing call to action. With 10,000 people turning 65 every day, there is no time to wait to make Medicare easier to navigate and more affordable, so that it is an even stronger benefit.”

Read the report.

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