Medicare and the Marketplace: 4 Things You Need to Know

There’s a lot to understand about the health insurance marketplace that opens on Oct. 1 – not to mention the Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare”), which created it. But if you’re on Medicare, there’s really nothing to be confused about. Here are key facts to remember: If you’re on Medicare, don’t worry about the marketplace. The new health exchanges, as they’ve also been called, are for people without insurance. Medicare beneficiaries will continue to have Medicare. Unfortunately, there’s a lot …

Why People Love Their Medicare Drug Coverage

Medicare’s drug coverage gets a 90 percent satisfaction rating from people who use it. Medicare Part D, in short, gets an A from beneficiaries. Pretty good for a program that barely squeaked through Congress 10 years ago. Here’s what Medicare beneficiaries think about Part D today, according to a national survey sponsored by the Healthcare Leadership Council: Ninety-six percent say the drug coverage gives them peace of mind. Ninety-five percent say their plan is convenient to use. Eighty-four percent say …

Medicare: Time for a Reality Check?

The public’s view of Medicare doesn’t match reality, according to an analysis of six polls by the New England Journal of Medicine, which says that the “wide gap in beliefs between experts on the financial state of Medicare and the public at large” could end up affecting the ongoing battle over the federal budget. Here are some of the chief disconnects: Although Medicare spending has been rising at slower rates during the past five years, 62 percent of Americans think just …

Congressional Budget Experts Predict More Red Ink

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has just published its 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook, and this year’s set of predictions for the nation’s balance sheet is sure to push Washington’s heartburn rate up a few notches. Three quick takeaways from the CBO’s report: The percentage of federal debt held by the public is higher than at any point in modern U.S. history. Federal debt held by the public is likely to decline a little bit over the next few years, as …

For Many, New Health Law Will Offer a Bridge to Medicare

When the virtual doors to the new Health Insurance Marketplace open next month, Americans in the 50-through-64 “pre-Medicare” age bracket may be the ones rushing in first. A story in the New York Times points out that, with the opening of the marketplace on Oct. 1, the Affordable Care Act may provide many older Americans with “a bridge to Medicare.” The story goes on to say: “While older people could pay up to three times as much as younger people buying …

What Put the Brakes on Medicare Spending?

The Holy Grail in battles over the federal budget has been how to slow down the runaway train of health care spending. So it surely comes as good news that spending on traditional Medicare has slowed substantially, as a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) study shows, and not just because of the broader economic slowdown. For 25 years, spending on traditional Medicare rose, on average, 8 percent a year. Then, from 2007 to 2012, the increase slowed to an average annual …