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Medicare Seniors Much Less Willing to Limit Physician-Hospital Choice for Lower Costs

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Publication Date: June 2005

Publisher(s): Center for Studying Health System Change

Author(s): Ha T. Tu

Series: Issue Brief No. 96

Topic: Health (Health services for older people)

Type: Brief

Abstract:

Elderly Americans are much less willing than working-age Americans to limit their choice of physicians and hospitals to save on out-of-pocket medical costs, according to a new national study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC). Only 44 percent of seniors 65 and older were willing to trade broad provider choice to save money, compared with more than 70 percent of people aged 18 through 34. Among seniors, those enrolled in Medicare health maintenance organizations (HMOs) were the most willing to limit choice of providers in return for lower out-of-pocket costs, while Medicare seniors with supplemental coverage were the least willing. Seniors with supplemental coverage account for nearly six in 10 Medicare seniors, and with nearly two-thirds of these seniors opposing provider choice restrictions, policy makers seeking to expand enrollment in Medicare Advantage managed care plans may face challenges.