Last Thursday, Seniors Speak Out held a Facebook live event to go over our annual Medicare Part D satisfaction survey. It once again showed the continued pattern of overwhelming support for this crucial public/private partnership that has played such an important part in the wellbeing of seniors since 2006. Our survey was conducted by Morning Consult, a highly respected polling organization. They who asked a broad cross section of 1,000 seniors what they thought of Medicare’s Part D prescription drug program. The results were once again incredibly positive. For this Facebook live event I teamed with Matt Monday from Morning Consult to go over the survey results. If you would like to see a recording of the event you can click here.
I opened the event by reiterating that the results were similar to past years with 90% overwhelmingly satisfied with their Medicare healthcare coverage. I pointed out that Part D has been a success since 2006 when it was first implemented. I then commented that almost 80% of the respondents did not support increased government intervention in Part D, primarily out of a fear it would restrict their access to cutting-edge treatments.
I wondered how our elected officials could continue to ignore these worries and support policies that increased government intervention. This increased governmental control was evidenced by the release of the first 10 drugs that would be subject to “negotiations.” I conjectured that our latest survey offered an interesting counterpoint to our lawmakers’ assertion that there was widespread support for the government’s price setting policies. I then turned the time over to Matt Monday to discuss the results of our survey.
Matt began by pointing out that this was his second year working with me on the results of our annual survey but the fourth year that Morning Consult has conducted this survey, which gives them more data to back up the compelling results. Matt focused his review on four main findings. The first being that 95% of seniors were satisfied with their healthcare coverage, this included their Part D coverage where 91% were satisfied, a 3% increase over last year. The second finding was that seniors found their Part D coverage was convenient, of good value and affordable. Matt commented that he wished he could describe any other healthcare research Morning Consult does that has such high levels of satisfaction. The third finding was that seniors felt they had access to the drugs they needed through their Part D coverage. One interesting data point was that seniors felt their out-of-pocket costs would be higher without Part D coverage. The fourth point focused on legislation that allows the government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs. Seniors were against the legislation if it inhibited their access to existing medicines or limited the discovery of new medicines.
After Matt’s review of the survey, I asked a few questions. I first asked if satisfaction rates had evolved over the years and why. Matt replied that one indicator of satisfaction was participants’ intensity of satisfaction, which is manifested by those who were very satisfied with their coverage. Those who were very satisfied increased 12% since 2021. Matt attributed some of this increase to seniors realizing how important Part D was during the COVID pandemic.
My next question dealt with why satisfaction rates have remained high. Is it premium prices, ease of use, or perhaps some other factor? Matt pointed out that the low premium price is certainly important, but he thought the findings show indicate that the ease of use and feeling comfortable with your plan makes a big impact on how satisfied you feel with this program.
I then asked if he thought that even though seniors found the program to be convenient, did they think it had high costs? He said that they found that seniors continued to think their costs weren’t high and he pointed out that 3 out of 4 seniors would recommend their plan to a friend or family member. I commented that one good thing that came out of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was the cap on out-of-pocket costs, and it will be interesting to see if it lowers the number of survey respondents who say their out-of-pocket costs are too high in future surveys.
I went on to ask what are the primary concerns seniors express regarding government involvement in Medicare Part D? Matt said that seniors were really concerned about the price setting portion of the IRA because this increased government involvement would put the government between them and their doctor and would limit their access to new medicines. He referenced the recent news that several drug manufacturers indicated this new legislation will limit their research and development on certain types of drugs.
My last question was whether he thought the IRA will impact the integrity of Part D? Matt said the data shows that seniors perceive that government involvement will have a direct impact on access to drugs and that this new legislation will not be in the best interest of patients.
My last comment resurrected an old saying that applied to Medicare Part D: if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. I expressed my fear that our government has begun a journey on a path that is going to negatively affect a program that has worked extremely well for 17 years.
I closed the event by thanking Matt and the Morning Consult people for conducting this survey and thanking those who joined us for this event.
Again, if you would like to see the entire Facebook live event you can click here.