Are the Experiences of Those New to Medicare Good from the Start?
Published in: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2023). doi: 10.1111/jgs.18325
Posted on rand.org Mar 29, 2023
Each year, more than 3 million Americans turn 65 and become entitled to Medicare, making it among the most common health insurance transitions. Prior research that compares access and affordability of healthcare for people just before and after reaching age 65 finds small improvements in both access and affordability. Less is known about whether access further improves after a period of initial adjustment to Medicare coverage. Some people newly eligible for Medicare might face initial challenges using their benefits due to a lack of experience in navigating the Medicare program, including identifying and accessing new providers for those without a prior provider who accepts Medicare. Our analysis, therefore, asks whether there is evidence of improvement a few years after enrollment in healthcare access, care experiences, or quality of care as people gain experience with the Medicare program. If yes, then it may be that the experience of transitioning to Medicare could be improved and yield larger increases in healthcare experiences. For the purposes of our analysis, we defined "new" Medicare enrollees as those aged 65 and 66 who are newly age entitled and compared them to counterparts aged 67–74 who are also age entitled. Our analytic approach accounts for a general tendency to report more positive patient experiences with increasing age.