HealthDay News — Seriously ill Medicare enrollees experience considerable financial distress, according to a report published in the November issue of Health Affairs.

Michael Anne Kyle, from Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and colleagues analyzed survey data from an original, nationally representative, probability-based sample of seriously ill adults covered under Medicare (607 patients) or their proxies (135 individuals).

The researchers found that 25 percent of the seriously ill said that costs were a major burden, while 30 percent said that they were a minor burden. Six in 10 respondents said that family members and friends helped a lot.

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However, family members and friends experienced considerable strain (e.g., financial problems, lowered income, and lost or changed jobs or reduced hours) as a result of providing help. Nearly three in 10 respondents said that there was a time when they did not get outside help because of cost. Less than half of seriously ill adults (46 percent) felt adequately informed by health professionals about what costs their insurance would cover.

“Medicare insurance is broadly popular, but seriously ill beneficiaries who most need financial protection report widespread problems affording care and financial instability,” the authors write.

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