The June 5 release of the Medicare Trustees Report has triggered alarm bell-style media headlines. Dozens of news reports about Medicare’s worsening financial outlook have painted a bleak picture—some bleaker than others, with one boldface headline announcing, “Medicare will go broke three years earlier than expected.”
Changing Medicare into a “Premium Support” Program Would Reduce—Not Increase—Choices for Individuals
The budget blueprint recently passed by the House proposes to redesign Medicare—the program that nearly all Americans ages 65 and older and millions of younger people with disabilities rely on for health coverage. The proposal would transform Medicare into what’s termed a “premium support” or “voucher” program. This change would have a huge impact on people with Medicare today and in the future.
Most Medicare enrollees can expect to pay the same amount for their Medicare Part B coverage (the portion of Medicare that pays for doctors’ services and outpatient care) in 2016 as they do this year ($104.90), according to estimates from the latest Medicare trustees report. But about 1 in 7 enrollees will face a dramatic increase.
The Medicare program is busy trying out new ways of paying for medical care that are designed to improve care and lower spending. One of the most important of these initiatives offers financial incentives to groups of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers, known as Accountable Care Organizations (or ACOs), that agree to share responsibility for delivering medical services to their patients.
Many consumers and policymakers mistakenly believe that Medicare - the federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older and some younger people with disabilities - pays for long-term care. It does not, as stated in the official Medicare handbook. Millions of Medicare enrollees must pay for long-term care services (such as personal assistance at home, assisted living, and nursing home care) entirely from their own income and savings.
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