Update: Survey: 46% of current Medicare enrollees want to pull the ladder up behind them, and other cynical findings

UPDATE: Please see Esther F's comment below this post for some important caveats/points regarding survey bias.

I had to think long and hard about what headline to use for this blog post. The first ones which came to mind were pretty crude, along the lines of "I've got mine, f*ck you!". After giving it some thought, I went with something a bit more genteel.

eHealth is one of the largest private online insurance brokers in the country. They sell ACA-compliant healthcare policies, but also sell other types of coverage, including non-ACA "short-term" plans, which regular readers (as well as eHealth) are aware I am not a fan of, to put it mildly.

Regardless, while I may not care for some of their offerings, they seem to be a reasonable company overall, and they regularly provide handy customer surveys on various ACA/healthcare topics which I find useful from time to time.

Today, no doubt in response to the new "Medicare for All" bill just released by the House Democrats, eHealth has released a new survey about Medicare attitudes:

This report presents findings from a survey of Medicare enrollees who purchased Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D, or Medicare Supplement plans through websites operated by eHealth, Inc., including eHealthMedicare.com, GoMedigap.com, and Medicare.com (a nongovernment website). The survey was conducted on voluntary basis in January and February of 2019 and a total of 2,021 responses were collected.

eHealth Medicare Consumer Survey provides insight into consumer sentiments on Medicare costs, shopping considerations, worries about the future of the Medicare program, technology adoption at home in for medical tracking, and willingness to receive medical care through nontraditional channels. Results are analyzed by age band, gender and income level. In some cases, results are compared with a prior eHealth survey conducted in August 2018.

Again, keep in mind that this survey is not necessarily representative of the entire Medicare population--something like 30% of Medicare enrollees use Medicare Advantage, for instance. Having said that, here's some of their findings:

OK, this isn't terribly surprising--3/4ths of those on Medicare either love it or like it; another 1/5th are "meh" at worst. What's more noteworthy is that the older you get, the more you appreciate Medicare...which makes sense since you're more likely to need expensive medical care as you age.

The bit about being more satisfied with Medicare at higher incomes also makes sense, considering that premiums for Medicare are exactly the same up until a fairly high threshold ($85,000 for a single enrollee, $170,000 for a married couple). That's 700% or 1,000% FPL respectively. That means your premium makes up an increasingly smaller percentage of your income for the 90%+ of Americans who earn less than that.

Prescription drug costs are completely out of control, and are one of the biggest (if not the biggest) drivers of the increase in overall healthcare costs, premiums and deductibles in general. Nearly 3/4ths of Medicare enrollees recognize this, which is why there seems to be a genuine bipartisan desire to reign in drug prices, although Dems and the GOP obviously have different views on how to get there.

Again, it's the bits at the bottom which I find more depressing: The bold-faced part talks about "raising Medicare taxes"...but the rest of the text clarifies that they're talking about raising Medicare taxes on those not yet eligible for Medicare only. In other words, around 25% of current Medicare enrollees think Medicare taxes should be raised on everyone else, just not them...and a full third of middle-class enrollees feel that way.

The age breakout is also telling about generational citizenship: Members of the Silent & Greatest Generation (who grew up during the Great Depression and World War II) are looking out for the rest of us. Gen X and Millennials, who aren't 65 yet, obviously aren't too keen on having their taxes raised. Who's most likely to want to raise taxes on the younger folks? You guessed it...the Baby Boomers.

This is the one which caught the eye of the grumpy cynic in me...and it's also a big part of the challenge facing those pushing "Medicare for All" (or even "Medicare for Most" or "Medicare for More"): According to this eHealth survey, 46% of current Medicare enrollees think it should be limited to those 65+ or even that the eligibility age should be RAISED.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and speculate that the 4% who think the age should be increased to 67 years old are themselves older than 67.

Again, notice the generational shift: Those over 80 or under 65 are more likely to want it opened up to everyone; those 65-70 are, shall we say, less likely to want to share with the other boys & girls.

Just so I don't end this on a negative note, however, there's some positive news in the last line above: The percent of survey respondents who support some sort of Medicare for All system has increased from 34% to 41% over the past year.