Most Medicare managed-care enrollees find healthcare accessible and are relatively satisfied with their plans, according to the preliminary results of a survey conducted for a congressional advisory panel.
The telephone survey of 3,080 Medicare managed-care enrollees and former enrollees found that only 8% reported trouble seeing physicians. The survey was conducted in February for the Physician Payment Review Commission, which advises Congress on Medicare payment issues.
Only 6% said they had not been referred to specialists if they wanted specialty care, and 6% said they felt they had been discharged from the hospital too soon, according to the survey, which was conducted for PPRC by Mathematica Policy Research.
The survey also found that 96% of the enrollees were able to see the same physician for most scheduled visits and that 43% rated their plans' overall healthcare coverage as "excellent," while only 4% said their care was either "fair" or "poor."
And of those beneficiaries who had a primary-care physician before enrolling in a risk HMO, 52% were able to retain that doctor.
But 17% of enrollees receiving home health services wanted more of such services. That mirrors demand in the Medicare fee-for-service sector, in which home health services represent some of the fastest-growing expenditures.
Medicare HMOs also scored well on preventive services. The survey found that 66% of Medicare managed-care enrollees received flu shots and 59% of female enrollees received mammograms in the previous year. Comparable figures for beneficiaries covered by fee-for-service payments were 57% for flu shots and 37% for mammograms.
Few beneficiaries left managed-care plans and returned to fee-for-service coverage, the survey found. The sample of Medicare beneficiaries that Mathematica surveyed included 2.8% that had done so.
Enrollees also scored their plans highly for giving them adequate information. Among new enrollees surveyed, 96% said they received a booklet explaining how the plan works and an equal percentage said they received a list of participating doctors and providers. But of those who wanted more information than that, 21% said they did not succeed or had trouble getting the information.