Understanding the Medicare Population and Consumer Affordability

May 6, 2022

This event was Part II of the Alliance’s The Future of Medicare series. 

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Medicare provides access to health care coverage for older adults, as well as people with disabilities or other qualifying health conditions. While Medicare provides comprehensive health coverage, many beneficiaries do not have access to additional benefits, including dental, vision, and hearing services. Out-of-pocket cost sharing requirements also pose challenges for beneficiaries. This session provided insight into the Medicare population, enrollment trends, and affordability considerations for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage.


  • Lindsey Copeland, J.D., Director of Federal Policy, Medicare Rights Center
  • Tricia Neuman, Sc.D., Executive Director for Program on Medicare Policy, Kaiser Family Foundation 
  • Eric T. Roberts, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Management, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health 
  • Loren Saulsberry, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, The University of Chicago Department of Public Health Sciences
  • Brandon G. Wilson, Dr.P.H., MHA, Director Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation, Community Catalyst (moderator)

This series was made possible with support from Arnold Ventures and the Commonwealth Fund.

Event Resources

Key Resources

(listed chronologically, beginning with most recent) 

“Medicare Advantage: A Policy Primer.” The Commonwealth Fund. May 3, 2022. Available here.

“Medicare Advantage Outperforms Fee-for-Service Medicare on Cost Protections for Low-Income and Diverse Populations.” Better Medicare Alliance. April 2022. Available here 

“Senators Introduce the Bipartisan BENES 2.0 Act to Further Simplify Medicare Enrollment.” Copeland, L. Medicare Rights Center. February 24, 2022. Available here. 

“When Costs Are a Barrier to Getting Health Care: Reports from Older Adults in the United States and Other High-Income Countries.” Jacobson, G., Cicchiello, A., Shah, A., et al. The Commonwealth Fund. October 1, 2021. Available here.

“Health Policy Handbook, Chapter 2: Coverage.” Rawal, P., Whitlock, R. Alliance for Health Policy. July 20, 2021. Available here. 

“Examining the Impact of New Medicare Advantage Benefits.” Weiss, J. Arnold Ventures. May 29, 2020. Available here. 

“Racial and Ethnic Health Inequalities and Medicare.” Ochieng, N., Cubanski, J., Nueman, T., et al. Kaiser Family Foundation. February 16, 2021. Available here 

“Medicaid Coverage ‘Cliff’ Increases Expenses and Decreases Care for Near-Poor Medicare Beneficiaries.” Roberts, E.T., Glynn, A., Cornelio, N., et al. 2021. Health Affairs. Available here. 

“Financing Diabetes Care in the U.S. Health System: Payment for Innovations for Addressing the Medical and Social Determinants of Health.” Saulsberry L, Peek M. Current Diabetes Reports. November 20, 2019. Available here. 

Additional Resources

(listed chronologically, beginning with most recent) 

“Medicare Beneficiary Enrollment Trends and Demographic Characteristics.” Tarazi, W., Welch, W., Nguyen, N., et al. Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. March 2, 2022. Available here. 

“Older Adults on Medicare and Those Near Medicare Age Face Cost Barriers to Care.” Jacobson, G., Cicchiello, A., Shah, A., et al. The Commonwealth Fund. November 2, 2021. Available here 

“Medicare Advantage vs. Traditional Medicare: How Do Beneficiaries’ Characteristics and Experiences Differ?” Jacobson, G., Cicchiello, A., Sutton, J., et al. The Commonwealth Fund. October 14, 2021. Available here.  

“Disparities in Health Care in Medicare Advantage Associated with Dual Eligibility or Eligibility for a Low-Income Subsidy.” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. September 2021. Available here. 

“Cost-Related Problems Are Less Common Among Beneficiaries in Traditional Medicare Than in Medicare Advantage, Mainly Due to Supplemental Coverage.” Biniek, J., Ochieng, N., Cubanski, J. et al. Kaiser Family Foundation. June 25, 2021. Available here. 

“A Tricky Balance: Medicare’s Affordability and Middle- and Lower-Income Beneficiaries’ Financial Stress.” Willink, A. American Society on Aging. 2021. Available here. 

“The Impact of Medicare on Access to and Affordability of Health Care.” Jacobs, P. Health Affairs. February 2021. Available here. 

“Comparing the Demographics of Enrollees in Medicare Advantage and Fee-For-Service Medicare.” Murphy-Barron, C., Pyenson, B., Ferro, C., et al. Better Medicare Alliance. October 2020. Available here. 

“Medicare’s Current and Future Role in Reducing Racial And Ethnic Health Disparities.” Landers, R., Bladeck, B., Cole, B. Health Affairs. March 23, 2020. Available here. 

“An Overview of Medicare.” Kaiser Family Foundation. February 13, 2019. Available here 

“The Next Generation of Medicare Beneficiaries.” MedPAC. June 2015. Available here. 

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Session 1: Medicare 101

Amy Bassano, M.A.
Managing Director of Medicare, Health Management Associates (HMA)

Matt Kazan, MPP
Managing Director, Avalere Health

James E. Matthews, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC)

Gretchen Jacobson, Ph.D.
Vice President, Medicare, The Commonwealth Fund

Arielle Mir, MPA
Vice President of Health Care (Complex Care), Arnold Ventures

Session 2: Understanding the Medicare Population and Consumer Affordability

Lindsey Copeland, J.D.
Federal Policy Director, Medicare Rights Center

Tricia Neuman, Sc.D.
Senior Vice President; Director, Program on Medicare Policy, KFF

Eric Roberts, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Management, University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health

Loren Saulsberry, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Health Policy and Health Services Research, The University of Chicago Department of Public Health Sciences

Brandon Wilson, DrPH, MHA
Director, Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation

Session 3: Policy Options to Promote Medicare Sustainability

Adaeze Enekwechi, Ph.D., MPP
Operating Partner, Welsh Carson Anderson & Stowe (WCAS)

Bowen Garrett, Ph.D.
Economist; Senior Fellow, Health Policy Center, Urban Institute

Josh Gordon, Ph.D.
Director of Health Policy, Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget

Harriet Komisar, Ph.D.
Senior Strategy Policy Advisor, Public Policy Institute, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

G. William Hoagland
Senior Vice President, Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC)

Experts and Analysts

Joseph Antos, Ph.D., M.A.
Wilson H. Taylor Scholar in Health Care and Retirement Policy, American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Juliette Cubanski, Ph.D., MPP, MPH
Deputy Director, Program on Medicare Policy, KFF

Robert E. Moffit, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, Health Policy Studies, The Heritage Foundation

Solvency Experts

Robert Berenson, M.D.
Institute Fellow, Urban Institute

Cori Uccello, MAAA, FSA, MPP
Senior Health Fellow, American Academy of Actuaries


Christine Aguiar Lynch
Vice President for Medicare and MLTSS Policy, Association for Community Affiliated Plans (ACAP)

Judith Stein, J.D.
Executive Director, Center for Medicare Advocacy

Georgia Burke, J.D.
Directing Attorney, Justice in Aging

Micki Nozaki, MBA
State Director, Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP)
Director, California Health Advocates

Sophia Tripoli, MPH
Director, Health Care Innovation, Families USA


Jonathan Blum
Principal Deputy Administrator & Chief Operating Officer, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Hannah Katch
Senior Policy Analyst, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)

Jeff Wu
Deputy Director for Policy, Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services


Greg Gierer, MPP
Vice President of Policy and Research, Better Medicare Alliance

Justine Handelman
Senior Vice President, Office of Policy and Representation, Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA)

Leigh Purvis, MPA
Director, Health Services Research, Public Policy Institute, American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

Cheryl Wilson, R.N., M.A., LNHA
Chief Executive Officer, St. Paul Senior Services