The Faces of Medicare

The Medicare beneficiary population is often described in homogenous terms, yet those covered by the program vary significantly in terms of their health, income, supplemental insurance status, and medical service use. profiles the following six groups within the Medicare population, providing basic information, trends and data:

  • Healthy retirees, who represent less than 10 percent of the total Medicare population, but sometimes are portrayed as typical of all seniors,
  • Under-65 disabled beneficiaries, whose disproportionately high rates of health and cognitive problems are compounded by low incomes,
  • Racial and ethnic minority beneficiaries, who by 2025 will account for one in three Medicare beneficiaries,
  • Beneficiaries with cognitive impairments, now nearly one in four Medicare beneficiaries, who face unique challenges navigating the health care system,
  • Low-income elderly and disabled, who remain among the most vulnerable,
  • Women, who constitute over 56 percent of Medicare beneficiaries but nearly 70 percent of Medicare’s poor.

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