Survey: Many doubt Medicare's future

Most people who are not on Medicare doubt the program will supply good and affordable healthcare by the time they turn 65, according to a new survey.

In its 2012 Health Confidence Survey, the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found most of those polled who are not yet eligible for Medicare lack confidence in several dimensions of the program's future.

Specifically, 80 percent expressed partial to no confidence that they will be able to afford healthcare while on Medicare without struggling financially.

A similar 77 percent were unsure that Medicare will afford them a good choice of medical providers, and 75 percent doubted that the program will guarantee them the medical treatments they need.

These figures are made up of responses from people who were "somewhat," "not too," and "not at all" confident in Medicare's ability to perform on a variety of metrics in the future.

On all three questions — affordability, provider choice and treatment access — a plurality of future beneficiaries said they were "not too" or "not at all" confident in Medicare.

The survey comes as the program remains a major topic in the presidential race.

EBRI did not poll on how to reform Medicare, but as partisan debates rage, the survey indicated that the program's future arouses concern for many.

In April, Medicare's trustees said the program's trust fund will be exhausted by 2024, the same time frame anticipated in 2011. 

President Obama argues that cost savings in his signature healthcare law extends Medicare's life. Mitt Romney, the GOP nominee, has backed plans to partially privatize the program to ensure it remains solvent.

In EBRI's poll, Medicare elicited the most faith on its ability to provide necessary treatments for future beneficiaries, with 23 percent saying they were "extremely" or "very" confident in the program on that question.

Overall, Americans are split on that status of the country's healthcare system: 28 percent called it "good," 28 percent called it "fair" and 26 percent called it "poor." Another 17 percent said U.S. healthcare is "good" or "excellent."

As with most surveys, EBRI found that Americans tend to be more satisfied with their own healthcare plans than with U.S. healthcare as a whole.