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Some Medicare users can't afford the necessary treatment, so they opt out.

Most seniors have private Medicare plans — but can’t afford to survive on them.

According to a survey from HealthMarkets, 19 percent of Medicare users have skipped or delayed a medical procedure because they couldn’t afford it. And 22 percent of them say they pay $100 or more in out-of-pocket expenses each month. That money could be extraordinary for those who don’t work or have retirement money to live off of.

Older Americans are already delaying retirement — or never retiring at all — because they can’t afford to live without an income. Many don’t know how much they will need in retirement; many didn’t plan accordingly to save enough. Most wish they had saved more earlier in life.

One of the biggest expenses for seniors is healthcare. But rising costs mean they are paying more or ignoring serious health issues. Ninety percent of Medicare users are paying up to $200 a month in premiums, the survey found.

Universal healthcare is wanted — paying for it isn’t

Most Medicare plan holders are interested in sharing the benefits. According to the survey, 50 percent of current enrollees would like a Medicare-for-All option. This is also known as a single-payer healthcare system that anyone can get.

So who is going to pay for it? The survey says that 48.5 percent of those who answered “yes” or “not sure” are only willing to pay up to 1 percent in federal income taxes for the plan.

Rising health insurance prices are scaring Americans away from buying them. They’re also scaring people away from paying out-of-pocket costs they can’t afford to pay. Even rich people are struggling to pay for healthcare. The other 51.5 percent of respondents are willing to pay somewhere between 1 to 4 percent (or more) in tax increases for a universal healthcare plan.

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Medical scams are on the rise

The HealthMarkets survey also asked participants about their history with scammers. Luckily, most admit they’re getting by fine.

The results show that 1 percent of Medicare users have been victims of Medicare scamming. Another 2 percent aren’t sure if they’ve been scammed or not. A hefty 97 percent admit they’ve never been scammed.

But that number might be lower than they think. Medical records are being stolen every day. And 41 million Americans have had their personal data stolen. If you haven’t been a victim yourself, you know someone who has been. Everyone is at risk.

And stealing healthcare data is becoming increasingly common: 25 percent of consumers have had their personal healthcare information stolen. And half of those breaches resulted in identity theft. A third of those breaches happened inside a hospital.

Outside the hospital isn’t much safer. Americans who have pacemakers are getting hacked at an alarming rate. Four different pacemaker manufacturers have 8,000 security flaws leaving owners open to theft. Currently, there isn’t any security regulation for programmers to follow when building pacemakers.

If you haven’t had a recent hospital stay and don’t have a pacemaker, you might feel that you’re not as vulnerable to theft. But healthcare workers know how much your data is worth — because they’re selling it.

Your data alone is worth anywhere between $500 and $1,000, according to 20 percent of healthcare workers. Another 24 percent know a coworker who is selling personal information. It looks like you’re going to have a hard time skipping out on healthcare data theft.

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Meet the Author

Dori Zinn

Dori Zinn


Zinn is a freelance journalist based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Family, News, Retirement

health, insurance

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