Consumers Respond to Medicare and Rx Proposals

Study Overview

As legislators and 2020 presidential candidates debate possible expansions of the Medicare program and propositions to decrease the cost of prescription drugs for American consumers, the analysis presented here explores consumer sentiments on these issues. Findings are compiled from voluntary surveys of consumers who purchased Medicare plans or individual and family plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through eHealth. Surveys were conducted in October 2019 and a total of 1,860 responses were received.

Highlights include the following:

  • “Medicare for all” opinions are almost evenly split: 35% would support a candidate who endorses a “Medicare for all” platform; 36% would not support such a candidate; 29% are undecided.
  • Many doubt “Medicare for all” would be implemented. If a candidate supporting “Medicare for all” is elected as president in 2020, fewer than one third (31%) think it likely that such a program would be implemented; 48% consider it unlikely.
  • Most support government action to lower drug costs: 87% of respondents support government initiatives to negotiate directly with drug makers, while 74% support government initiatives to import drugs from outside the United States.
  • Some consumers are already buying lower-cost drugs from outside the U.S.: 21% of ACA plan enrollees with an income between $75,000 and $100,000 have purchased drugs from outside the country in order to save money.

 

Opinions on “Medicare for all” candidates are almost evenly split for the 2020 election 

  • 35% of respondents would support a presidential candidate who promoted a “Medicare for all” program.
  • 36% say they would not support such a candidate. • 29% have not made up their minds on the issue.

 

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People enrolled in ACA plans more likely than Medicare enrollees to support “Medicare for all” candidates: 41% of respondents enrolled in ACA health plans would support a “Medicare for all” candidate, compared to 33% of Medicare enrollees. In an October 2018 eHealth survey, 31% of Medicare enrollees said all Americans should have access to Medicare-like coverage.

Women are more likely than men to support “Medicare for all”: 38% of women said they would support a “Medicare for all” candidate, compared to 32% of men; by contrast, 44% of men said they would not support such a candidate, compared to 31% of women.

 

Nearly half (48%) of respondents consider a “Medicare for all” program unlikely to be implemented

  • 9% of respondents considered such a program very likely to be implemented.
  • 23% considered it somewhat likely.
  • 22% considered it neither likely nor unlikely.
  • 24% considered it somewhat unlikely.
  • 24% considered it very unlikely.

 

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  • Women think “Medicare for all” more likely to be implemented: 33% of women considered a “Medicare for all” program likely to be implemented, compared to 25% of men; by contrast, 52% of men considered it unlikely to be implemented, compared to 44% of women.
  • Minimal differences between Medicare enrollees and those enrolled in ACA plans: 29% of Medicare enrollees think it either very or somewhat likely that a “Medicare for all” program would be implemented, compared to 33% of respondents enrolled in ACA plans.

 

Nearly nine in ten want the government to negotiate directly with pharmaceutical companies

  • 87% of respondents would like to see the federal government negotiate directly with drug companies to lower costs.
  • 13% say they would not support government action of this sort.

 

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  • Women more likely than men to support negotiations: 90% of women support direct government negotiations with drug companies to lower costs, compared to 82% of men.
  • Income impacts views on drug cost negotiations: 97% of respondents with an annual household income between $100,000 and $150,000 support direct government negotiations with drug companies to lower costs, compared to 79% of those earning more than $200,000 per year.

 

Nearly three quarters want the government to import less costly drugs from outside the U.S.

  • 74% of respondents would support government initiatives to import prescription drugs internationally to bring down their cost.
  • 26% say they would not support government actions to allow drug importation. 

 

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Men more likely to support drug importation: 80% of men support government initiatives to import prescription drugs from overseas to save money, compared to 70% of women.

Middle income earners were most likely to support drug importation: 85% of those with annual incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 per year supported the idea of importing drugs, compared to 68% of those with incomes less than $25,000

 

More than one in ten consumers have purchased prescription drugs from foreign countries to save money

  • 13% of respondents report they bought prescription drugs at least once from outside the United States in order to save money.
  • 87% say they have never done so.

 

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Higher earners more likely to have bought prescriptions internationally to save money:

  • Among ACA plan enrollees: 21% of those with an annual household income between $75,000 and $100,000 say they have purchased drugs from outside the United States to save money, compared to 5% of those with incomes less than $25,000.
  • Among Medicare enrollees: 16% of those with an annual household income between $75,000 and $100,000 say they have purchased drugs from outside the United States to save money, compared to 11% of those with incomes less than $25,000.

 

Methodology Note

This report’s findings are based on voluntary surveys of Medicare consumers and individual and family health insurance consumers who purchased policies compliant with the Affordable Care Act at eHealth.com. The surveys were conducted in October 2019 and a total of 1,860 responses were collected. All figures were rounded to the nearest full percentage point. Total percentages may add to slightly more or less than 100 due to rounding.