How does beneficiary knowledge of the medicare program vary by type of insurance?
BACKGROUND. Prior research found that Medicare beneficiaries' knowledge of the Medicare program varied by the type of supplemental insurance they had. However, none of these studies used both multivariate methods and nationally representative data to examine the issue. OBJECTIVES. To measure beneficiary knowledge of the Medicare program and to evaluate how knowledge varies by type of supplemental insurance. RESEARCH DESIGN. A mail survey with telephone follow-up to a nationally representative random sample of Medicare beneficiaries, which had a 76% response rate. The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of providing the Medicare & You handbook on beneficiary knowledge, information needs, and health plan decision making. SUBJECTS. A total of 3738 Medicare beneficiaries who completed the survey. MEASURES. A psychometrically validated 22-item index that reflects Medicare-related knowledge in seven different content areas. RESULTS. Overall, beneficiaries with a Medicare HMO or non-employer-sponsored supplemental insurance were more knowledgeable about Medicare than those who had Medicare only. In general, beneficiaries tended to be more knowledgeable about issues related to the type of insurance they had (fee-for-service or managed care) than other types of insurance. CONCLUSIONS. Higher levels of knowledge about one's own type of insurance may suggest that beneficiaries learn by experience or they learn more about that type of insurance before enrollment. Further research is needed to better understand how and when beneficiaries learn about insurance and what educational strategies are more effective at increasing knowledge