Medicare Confusion

Published January 1, 2004

More than two-thirds of seniors are confused about the new Medicare Reform Act.

A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows only 15 percent of people over age 65 understand it. Those under age 65 are even more confused.

The new law added prescription benefits to Medicare. Nearly 70 percent of those interviewed did not understand that it was a bill passed in Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush.

Both sides have launched advertising campaigns about the law, with Democrats complaining the government’s ads amount to political advertising. In a classic example of wasted time and money, Democrats have asked for an investigation.

The lack of understanding makes the situation ripe for political demagoguery on both sides as we enter the election season. The president will say he delivered a good prescription drug law and the Democratic candidate will say it’s a bad law.

That raises an important question: If you don’t understand the law, how can you judge it?

Implementation of the permanent Medicare drug benefit is still two years away. But right now, there is obviously a huge need for seniors to have more accurate information. This is, of course, the very reason the Bush administration ads are running.

It’s your health folks. You need to know what’s truth and what’s fiction.

IT’S YOUR HEALTH is written by Conrad Meier, senior fellow in health policy at The Heartland Institute. This program is produced as a public service by Radio America. Meier passed away unexpectedly on March 18, 2005.