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The Gerontologist 44:58-67 (2004)
© 2004 The Gerontological Society of America

Enrollees Choose Priorities for Medicare

Marion Danis, MD1,, Andrea K. Biddle, PhD2 and Susan Dorr Goold, MD, MHSA, MA3

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Marion Danis, MD, Department of Clinical Bioethics, Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health, Building 10, Rm. 1C118, Bethesda, MD 20892-1156. E-mail: mdanis{at}

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the feasibility and results of ascertaining Medicare enrollees' priorities for insured medical benefits. Design and Methods: Structured group exercises were conducted with Medicare enrollees from clinical and community settings in central North Carolina. By participating in a decision exercise, CHAT: Choosing Healthplans All Together, individuals and groups chose medical benefits within the constraints of a monthly Medicare + Choice premium. The acceptability of the exercise and the resulting benefit package were assessed. Results: Ten groups (121 individuals) made trade-offs that involved the selection of more tightly managed care in order to add pharmacy, dental, and long-term care benefits. All were willing to forgo experimental therapy; 7 groups gave priority to insuring the uninsured. Participants found the exercise overwhelmingly acceptable and were willing to abide by their groups' choices. Implications: Medicare enrollees are able to come to consensus about financially constrained benefit packages that may be useful in reform of the Medicare program.

Key Words: Medicare • Patient participation • Insurance benefits • Health priorities

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Copyright © 2004 by The Gerontological Society of America.