Medicare benefit expansion: 13 stats on the state of current beneficiaries

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A new Sept. 21 Kaiser Family Foundation report provides a backdrop for congressional conversations on expanding Medicare benefits to include dental, vision and hearing. 

Thirteen stats to know:

1. Medicare benefit expansion is a "top" or "important" priority for 90 percent of the public. 

2. Nearly half of Medicare beneficiaries faced hearing issues (44 percent) and over a third faced vision issues (35 percent) in 2019.

3. Of 2019 Medicare beneficiaries, 1 in 6 noted limited access to dental, hearing or vision care, with cost barriers rising to the top for 70 percent of respondents. Dental was the most reported, followed by vision and hearing. 

4. The year before, dental care (53 percent had a dental visit) trumped vision (35 percent) and hearing care (8 percent). 

5. Hearing care resulted in the most out-of-pocket costs ($914 annually), followed by dental ($874) and vision ($230). However, hearing and dental care costs see higher averages because a minority of patients require high-cost procedures or equipment.

6. While enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans saved members money on dental ($226 saved on average) and vision care ($48 saved on average), there were no significant savings associated with hearing care.

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