Medicare in Good Health – for Now

Medicare is in much better health and has a somewhat longer life expectancy than previously expected, according to the 2014 Medicare Trustee’s report released today. Spending on Medicare’s Part B program, which covers mainly doctors’ services and outpatient care, has significantly slowed, the report says. That’s good news for the 59 million people on Medicare, because it means that the standard Part B premiums, which are always pegged to the previous year’s costs, are expected to stay at the same …

Medicare Overpays $6.7 Billion for Patient Evaluation Services

Medicare spent $6.7 billion too much in 2010 by “inappropriately” paying claims from physicians who had submitted the wrong billing codes or no documentation at all for certain services, according to a new report from the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Although that amount was a small fraction of Medicare’s total spending of more than $525 billion in 2010, it still added up to 21 percent of what Medicare paid for all “evaluation …

Low-Value Health Services Cost Medicare Billions

Medical services that provide little or no health benefit to older Americans cost Medicare at least $1.9 billion a year, according to a landmark new study. Researchers at Harvard University’s department of health care policy found that at least 25 percent of the more than 1.3 million Medicare beneficiaries had one or more of 26 tests and procedures that have been shown to provide scant medical value. The study is thought to be the first to measure wasteful spending by …

Will Obamacare Save Lives?

Fewer people died after Massachusetts introduced mandatory health coverage in 2006, a new Harvard study finds, offering “encouraging evidence” that the country’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) – modeled on the Massachusetts plan – could also save lives, researchers said. The study, published this week in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that Massachusetts’ health-coverage law saved about 320 lives a year during each of its first four years. “Our findings add to a growing body of evidence showing that health insurance makes …