Country: United States
Survey Organization: Louis Harris and Associates, Inc.
Field Dates: November 1996 to June 1997
Sample: Non-institutionalized Medicare enrollees
Sample Size: 3,300
Interview Method: Telephone
This survey profiles beneficiaries' experiences getting health care and examines their exposure to financial burdens. The survey's findings underscore the diversity of the Medicare population and point to the challenge of improving protections for the relatively large share of beneficiaries with low incomes and/or health problems.
Overall, the survey's findings portray a population at high risk owing to problematic health and low or modest incomes. Contrary to popular media images of the wealthy and healthy retiree, two of three Medicare beneficiaries live on relatively low incomes or have health problems. One of three beneficiaries lives on an income below 200 percent of the poverty level (about $15,000 annually for an individual) and reports health problems. Half (49%) said they spend all (22%) or most (27%) of their monthly income on basic living necessities. Disabled Medicare beneficiaries under age 65—those receiving Social Security payments because of a permanent disability—are another vulnerable group. Compared with Medicare's elderly, these individuals were more likely to report fair or poor health status, functional impairments, and mental health problems.
To view the survey questions, download the attachment posted at right. To read an analysis of the survey, see the Fund report under Related Resources, on right.