A significant number of seniors face financial burdens that impact their health, regardless of what type of Medicare coverage they have, according to the Commonwealth Fund’s 2022 Biennial Health Insurance Survey, published Sept. 19. Survey results from about 1,600 Medicare beneficiaries ages 65 and older showed that more than one-third lived at below 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL), an income threshold of $27,180 for 2022. And nearly 1 in 5 seniors reported being underinsured (defined as having high out-of-pocket costs or deductibles relative to one’s income), with low-income seniors reporting the highest underinsured rates.
By coverage type, the most likely group to be underinsured were traditional Medicare (TM) beneficiaries without any supplemental coverage. TM beneficiaries with supplemental coverage (such as a Medigap plan, union-based coverage or dual eligibility with Medicaid) were the least likely to be underinsured, with Medicare Advantage members falling in between. In their analysis of the survey results, the report’s authors pointed out that seniors may not want to pay premiums for Medigap plans, can be denied from purchasing supplemental coverage, or be “subject to underwriting…because in most states, there is only a limited period during which plans are required to issue policies.”