Introduction and Summary
The Medicare Rights Center (Medicare Rights) is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives. In 2018-2019, Medicare Rights staff and volunteers addressed more than 37,000 questions and issues through the organization’s national helpline. In addition, Medicare Rights’ free and independent online reference tool Medicare Interactive, designed to help older adults and people with disabilities navigate the complex world of health insurance, answered 6.1 million questions for people with Medicare, their caregivers, and professionals. This report will feature select helpline trends and highlight the most commonly sought Medicare Interactive answers, providing a glimpse into the information and coverage needs of Medicare beneficiaries and their families.
Helpline callers and Medicare Interactive users are geographically and socioeconomically diverse and need assistance with a wide array of complex Medicare-related issues. In 2018-19, Medicare Rights served clients in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Approximately 36% of helpline callers were living on incomes of less than $19,000 per year. This number includes people dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, who represented 14% of all callers. Caregivers helping to resolve issues and asking questions for family members accounted for 20% of all helpline callers. Around 21% of helpline calls were by or for individuals under 65 who were eligible for Medicare due to disability. Medicare Interactive provides less robust demographic data on users, but such users represent both beneficiaries and the professionals serving them. The most popular sections in 2018-2019 included one on Medicare-covered services and one that introduces Medicare eligibility and coverage topics.
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