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Public Policy and Administration


Dr. Steven A. Matarelli, PhD


Medicare Part B is one of the federal health insurance programs available to senior citizens in the United States. Unlike Medicare Part A, Part B enrollment is not automatic, and those missing their initial enrollment period are assessed a 10% or more penalty in addition to their monthly premium rate for the rest of their lives. This problematic enrollment policy has impacted senior citizens who have missed Part B enrollment windows, creating for them an added financial burden when many are transitioning to fixed incomes. Guided by social construction theory and using a nonprobability, convenience sampling approach, the likelihood coefficient values associated with Medicare Part B enrollee awareness, stress, and income of 112 residents of a suburban city in a northeastern state who were 65 years and older were examined. Sequential Forward: LR methodology yielded a significant, negative (b = -1.21, Wald X2(1) = 7.56, OR = .298, p = .006, CI [.126, .707]) and a significant, positive (b = 2.16, Wald X2(1) = 6.29, OR = 8.678, p = .012, CI [1.60, 46.99]) likelihood of predicting Medicare Part B late enrollment penalties for awareness and stress; income was not a significant model predictor. Participants who reported higher stress levels were 8.7 times more likely to be classified in the Medicare Part B late enrollment penalty than those reporting lower stress. Participants who were aware of enrollment needs were 3.4 times more likely to have no late enrollment penalties than those who were unaware. Positive social change centers on increasing Medicare Part B consumer awareness, reducing stress of enrollment deadlines, and providing information to federal policy makers to simplify enrollment policies to reduce or end late enrollment penalties.

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