According to a new poll by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), most seniors are confused and unaware to important aspects of health reform, or the Affordable Care Act, including its impact on their own Medicare coverage, the growth of Medicare, and the budget deficit. The survey asked adults 65 and older a series of twelve questions about the new law and the results reveal that only 17% of seniors knew the correct answers to more than half the factual questions posed about these key aspects of new law and only 9% knew the correct answers to at least two-thirds of the questions. None of the 636 older adults interviewed for the poll knew the correct answers to all twelve of the factual questions. The highest number of correct answers came on questions relating to expansion of coverage for uninsured Americans (43% said yes) and that the law would gradually close the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap (“donut hole”) with 42% answering correctly.
Some of the highlights from the survey include:
- only 22% of seniors understood that the new law would not cut their basic Medicare benefits
- almost twice as many seniors (42%) held the incorrect view that the law would cut their basic Medicare benefits
- 37% said they did not know
- Only 14% of seniors knew that the law does not cut Medicare payments to doctors; 45% answered incorrectly and 41% said they did not know.
- Only 24% of seniors knew that it is projected to extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund.
- Only 28% knew that the law improves the availability of long-term care at home for seniors with disabilities.
- 22% knew about improvements in chronic care.
- 33% knew about the new, free yearly wellness visit Medicare will now provide.
- Two out of three seniors either did not know (43%) or gave the wrong answer about the future growth of Medicare spending. Only 34% knew that it will continue to grow under the new law, just more slowly.
"The health reform debate was long and complicated and often dominated by political spin that confused seniors," said James Firman, president and CEO of NCOA. "NCOA is committed to helping seniors get the key facts and information they need to make smart, informed decisions about their own health care. The fact that this poll revealed that so many people are misinformed or don’t know much about the new law means we have our work cut out for us with the "Straight Talk for Seniors on Health Reform" campaign."