And 5 in 10 Predict New Medicare Drug Provisions Will Save Them Little or Nothing
5 in 10 older Americans say their healthcare expenses were higher than expected in the past year
6 in 10 are somewhat or very concerned about their ability to pay for healthcare
7 in 10 tried to save on prescription drugs in the past year
6 in 10 underestimate their retirement health costs
5 in 10 say new Medicare drug provisions will save them little or nothing
HealthCare.com’s 2022 Medicare survey shows half of 65+ Americans’ healthcare expenses were higher than expected in the past year.
6 in 10 are somewhat or very concerned about their ability to pay for healthcare.
6 in 10 underestimate their retirement health costs at less than $100K.
And 5 in 10 say new Medicare drug cost provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act will save them little or nothing.
Scroll down for the full results of HealthCare.com’s Medicare Survey 2022.
Medicare Survey 2022
One-half of older Americans say their healthcare expenses were higher than expected in the past year.
Another 6 in 10 are somewhat or very concerned about their ability to pay for healthcare.
High costs and concerns about ability to pay are driving 7 in 10 65+ Americans to try to save on prescription drug costs.
But 5 in 10 say new Medicare drug provisions in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act will save them little or nothing.
HealthCare.com polled 1,000 65+ Americans ahead of the Medicare Annual Election Period from October 15 through December 7.
Healthcare Costs Outpacing Expectations
The number of respondents who say their healthcare costs were higher than expected in the past year vastly exceeds the number who say their healthcare costs were lower than expected.
46% say their expenses were somewhat or much higher than expected since September 2021. That compares to just 7% who say their healthcare expenses were somewhat or much lower than expected.
Compared to 2021, the percentage of 65+ Americans reporting trouble paying their doctor’s bills in 2022 doubled in some categories.
The percentage of respondents who report trouble paying hospital bills rose from 6% to 11%.
The percentage who report trouble paying for doctor visits jumped from 2% to 7%.
The percentage reporting trouble paying for scans or screening climbed from 1% to 6%.
And the percentage of pollees who say they had trouble paying for prescription drugs soared from 6% to 14%.
In total, 31% of 2022 respondents had trouble paying for healthcare, while 69% didn’t.
Trouble paying within the last year
Despite a perception that Medicare covers older Americans’ healthcare for free, health insurance premiums continue to top the rankings for number one healthcare expense.
26% of respondents say it’s their leading healthcare expense, followed by long-term care (21%) and dentist bills (19%). Prescription drugs come next at 16%.
Out-of-pocket (OOP) healthcare expenses also pose an additional burden on older Americans, many of whom are on fixed incomes.
25% of respondents say they spent between $501-$1000 on prescription drugs in the past year. 30% said they spent $501-$1000 on vision, 10% spent $501-$1000 on hearing, and 29% spent $501-$1000 out-of-pocket on other healthcare, including mostly dentistry.
15% spent over $1,000 out-of-pocket on prescriptions in the past year, 6% on vision, 9% on hearing, and 18% on other healthcare like dental services.
Surprise medical bills can add to the burden faced by older Americans, who are likely to require more healthcare services than their younger counterparts.
1 in 3 respondents (32%) say they received surprise medical bills in the past year, and 68% say they didn’t.
For 13% who got surprise medical bills, the amount was less than $500, but for 19%, their surprise medical bills exceeded $501.
With healthcare expenses higher than expected, some 65+ Americans are also facing medical debt.
More than 1 in 4 survey respondents (27%) say they have medical debt. Among them, 10% carry debt up to $1,000, while 11% have medical debt above $1,000. Another 6% either don’t know or prefer not to say how much they owe. 73% say they have no debt.
Given their costly bills, almost one-half of older Americans (47%) are somewhat or very concerned that a major health situation could lead to debt or bankruptcy.
But 10% have nothing saved for a medical emergency, and 20% more than nothing but less than $3,000. At the same time, a sizable 40% have more than $6,000 saved for a healthcare emergency.
16% of 65+ Americans forewent travel to afford healthcare, 14% skipped entertainment and 14% home repair, among other activities. Meanwhile, 72% did not forego paying for anything in order to afford healthcare.
Inaccurate Healthcare Expense Estimates
Given their higher than expected costs and debt, many 65+ Americans find it difficult to estimate their healthcare expenses.
Almost 3 in 10 respondents (27%) call it somewhat or very difficult to estimate their healthcare expenses in the past year, while 43% find it somewhat or very easy.
Older Americans also tend to underestimate their healthcare costs in retirement.
We asked participants to choose among six ranges for their healthcare costs in retirement: $0-100K, $100-200K, $200-300K, $300-400K, $400-4005 and over 500K.
The overwhelming majority, 63%, selected $0-100K.
That stands in contrast to a widely cited Fidelity estimate that an average retired couple age 65 in 2022 may need approximately $315K saved (after tax) to cover healthcare in retirement.
Overall, 6 in 10 older Americans (59%) are somewhat or very concerned about their ability to pay future healthcare costs.
Adopting Savings Strategies
65+ Americans are adopting savings strategies for prescription drugs.
7 in 10 respondents tried to save on prescription drugs in the past year.
The largest number, 21%, asked for a generic version of a brand-name drug. 18% asked for a larger supply, while 10% used a discount drug card.
Which are ways you have saved on prescription drug costs within the last year?
Majority Call Prescription Drugs Affordable
While many look for savings, a similar 70% of respondents call their prescription drugs very or somewhat affordable, compared to only 14% who say they are very or somewhat unaffordable.
Regarding government policy on medications, older Americans appear to have low expectations for savings to come from the Medicare provisions in the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
Over one-half (53%), say the provisions will save them little or nothing. Less than 3% say they will save a lot from the Inflation Reduction Act.
HealthCare.com conducted this survey September 19-20, 2022, utilizing a SurveyMonkey Audience to poll a national sample of 1,115 65+ U.S. adults. The margin of error for this survey is plus or minus 3.0 percentage points. The sample was balanced for age, gender, and U.S. region according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.