Original Medicare Preferred to Medicare Advantage and Employer Plans

By Les Masterson

Medicare for all is a hot topic in the 2020 presidential election, with supporters arguing that people don’t like their current health plans. However, an Insurance.com survey finds that respondents overwhelmingly like both Original Medicare and private insurance plans. In fact, a recent Insurance.com survey finds that Original Medicare receives better marks from members than any other type of health insurance, including Medicare Advantage, employer-based coverage, Medicaid and individual insurance.

Original Medicare tops the list with not one respondent giving it a low mark. Medicare Advantage and employer-based plans are tied for second.

The survey of 1,000 people reveals that 43% of beneficiaries with Original Medicare give their coverage the highest mark (a 5 on a 1-5 scale). Another 39% grade their plans a 4. That means 82% of people with Original Medicare grade their plan one of the two highest marks.

The survey reveals that 72% of Medicare Advantage members are well satisfied with their coverage, giving their plans one of the top two marks. Employer-based plans received the same volume of combined 4 and 5 marks – 72%.

While respondents didn’t give Original Medicare one low grade, 7% of Medicare Advantage members and 5% of employer-based insurance members ranked their plans at the lowest score level.

These three types of plans fared much better than Medicaid or individual insurance. The survey uncovers a wide variation between people’s thoughts about Medicaid. More than half of Medicaid members give the health insurance program for low-income Americans a 4 or a 5 (61%).

However, nearly one-quarter of Medicaid members rate their plans poorly. Eighteen percent graded their Medicaid plan only a 2 and 6% ranked it as a 1.

Why such a large variation for Medicaid? One possibility is that Medicaid varies by state. The federal-state program allows states to create their own plans and eligibility. Three dozen states have expanded Medicaid to lower-middle-class people, while the remaining states continue to offer the program to a smaller group of people. A state’s specific Medicaid program likely impacts a person’s thoughts on that health insurance.

Medicaid fared much better than individual insurance. Individual insurance, including Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange plans, received low marks. Only 36% of people with an individual plan gave their plans a 5 or 4. The most common grade for individual plans was a 2 (28%). Forty-two percent of individual plan members ranked their plans as a 2 or 1. That was the worst rating by far in the survey.

One possible reason for the low marks may be related to costs. People who are ineligible for government subsidies pay higher health insurance costs with individual insurance than is typically the case with other types of plans.

Health insurance satisfaction survey results

How would you rate your satisfaction with your health insurance plan?

Source: Insurance.com commissioned a Google survey of nearly 1,000 people

Look for debates over Medicare changes and proposals for Medicare for All to rage on in 2020. Consumer satisfaction will play a major role in all of these debates.


Les Masterson is managing editor at Insurance.com, an industry website that covers auto, home, life and health insurance. He has researched and written extensively about health insurance and health care for consumers, executives and hospital CEOs.