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Seniors confused about health care reform
By Insure.com staff

One in five seniors mistakenly thinks they can enroll in a medical and prescription drug plan through one of the new health insurance marketplaces, according to a new survey commissioned by Express Scripts, a prescription benefit management company.

The marketplaces, or exchanges, opened Oct. 1 and sell 2014 plans to people under age 65.

Medicare health and drug plans will not be available through the marketplaces. Open enrollment for Medicare plans will run as usual this year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, 2013. During this period, Medicare beneficiaries can change their plans or do nothing if they decide to stay on the same plans.

Eighty-six percent of survey respondents reported confusion about how health care reform will affect their Medicare prescription drug coverage. Among the notable misconceptions:

  • Twenty-nine percent believe the Affordable Care Act raises the Medicare eligibility age, with 68 being the average age cited. The law does not change Medicare eligibility rules.
  • Fifty-two percent falsely believe they're paying more for their prescription drugs in the coverage gap -- the so-called "doughnut hole" -- under health care reform. The gap is actually closing under health care reform, reducing seniors' out-of-pocket costs.
  • Sixty-five percent do not know that Medicare enrollment begins in October.
  • Seventeen percent mistakenly think health insurance marketplace plans could replace their Medicare plans.

Meanwhile, the survey also showed that 46 percent of seniors plan to make changes to manage their health care costs better. Of those, 78 percent are adjusting their budgets, and 40 percent are considering temporary employment.

But some are cutting back on health care, which could do them harm in the long run. Twenty percent are skipping doctor's appointments, 18 percent are delaying medication refills, and 14 percent are skipping medication doses.

The survey, conducted by Kelton, a research consultancy, polled 1,101 seniors currently enrolled in Medicare or who will be Medicare eligible within the next 12 months.

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