Morning Consult survey: seniors on Medicare share 2021 healthcare policy priorities

By , Chief Advocacy and Engagement Officer

Seniors on Medicare, like so many others, faced many challenges in 2020. The worries of paying for high-out-of-pocket healthcare costs increased as they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.

In January, Morning Consult conducted a survey on behalf of the PAN Foundation, polling seniors on Medicare who are living with one or more chronic conditions. They found that many seniors were concerned with out-of-pocket prescription costs last year and that worry remains top of mind in 2021.

A bipartisan majority of seniors—92 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans surveyed—agreed that the Biden-Harris administration should prioritize lowering out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries in the first 100 days.

(We agree. Our President and CEO Dan Klein wrote an op-ed on the topic recently.) Costs for seniors are often highest at the beginning of the year when annual deductibles reset. Unsurprisingly, a majority of seniors polled in January also supported evenly distributing out-of-pocket costs for prescription medications throughout the year for Medicare beneficiaries.

Out-of-pocket challenges in 2020

The survey also found that 40 percent of seniors spent more than $200 on out-of-pocket prescription costs in 2020, with worries about high costs increasing among seniors in lower-income brackets and those with multiple chronic conditions.

Last year, 34 percent of seniors on Medicare who reported high out-of-pocket costs reduced spending in other areas of their budgets in order to afford their prescription medications

On top of these worries, many seniors had to make financial adjustments because of the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly 60 percent of seniors either avoided or delayed seeing a healthcare provider. And about 55 percent of seniors prioritized certain prescriptions over others, and either delayed starting treatment for a chronic condition or didn’t start treatment at all.

Seniors on Medicare continue to face high out-of-pocket costs as they live through the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. These results underscore the continued importance and urgency of our work advocating for more affordable and accessible healthcare.

Only after Congress takes action can we truly look forward to a time when no senior is forced to choose between prescription medications and essentials, like groceries. We plan to continue surveying our seniors and advocating for their interests in the year ahead.

To learn more about the challenges facing seniors on Medicare in 2021, read the full survey results.

Editor’s note: Morning Consult conducted this research on behalf of the Patient Access Network (PAN) Foundation.