Medicare Drug Benefit
The Milbank Quarterly
"Can Limiting Choice Increase Social Welfare? The Elderly and Health Insurance"
The more options for Medicare prescription drug coverage elderly patients have, the more likely they are to make a choice based on information that is not necessarily the most relevant, or to not make a decision at all, according to researchers.
Researchers found that the elderly tend to make health coverage decisions differently than younger people for several reasons, including lower education levels and a limited amount of knowledge about health care options.
Researchers suggested several policy changes to help seniors with health insurance choices, including:
- Reducing the number of decisions, including eliminating Medicare Advantage plans with the lowest enrollment and reducing the number of Medigap plans;
- Reducing the number of insurers competing for business by making the government assess bids and determine which companies should be allowed to offer their plans; and
- Providing decision-making support to seniors.
The report was written by researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles (Hanoch/Rice, The Milbank Quarterly, Q1 2006). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.