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Medicare provides health coverage to approximately 54 million beneficiaries ages 65 and over and younger people with permanent disabilities.  Medicare will cover an increasingly large number of people as the baby boom population reaches age 65, and the program remains an important topic in Washington and around the country as political leaders and other policy makers weigh potential changes to the program.

Take this quiz to find out how much you know about Medicare, the people it serves, the benefits it covers, and its financial status.

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1

Approximately what share of the federal budget goes toward Medicare, the federal program that provides health insurance to elderly and disabled Americans across all income levels?

In 2013, Medicare accounted for 14 percent of total federal spending.

2

Half of all Medicare beneficiaries lived on incomes of less than what amount in 2013, including income from Social Security and all other sources?

In 2013, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $23,500 per person, including Social Security income, pension income, earnings, and income from other sources.

3

Which one of the following services is not typically covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not typically cover the cost of a nursing home or other long-term care services and supports.

4

What share of all physicians (excluding pediatricians) report that they are accepting new Medicare patients in their practice?

According to a large, national survey of physicians, most non-pediatric doctors (91%) report that they accept new Medicare patients into their practice.

5

Most large employer health plans protect enrollees from extraordinarily high medical bills by placing an annual limit on out-of-pocket costs. Does the traditional Medicare program do this?

The traditional Medicare program does not include an annual limit on beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending for inpatient hospital, physician visits, and other medical services covered under Medicare Parts A and B.

6

Do all Medicare beneficiaries pay the same premium for coverage of physician and outpatient services, regardless of their income?

Medicare charges most beneficiaries the same Part B premium for physician and outpatient services – about $105 per month in 2014. However, higher-income beneficiaries (individuals with annual incomes over $85,000 and couples with annual incomes over $170,000) are required to pay more.

7

Is Medicare spending expected to grow faster or slower per person than private health insurance spending over the next decade?

Medicare spending per beneficiary is expected to grow slower than private health insurance spending on a per person basis from 2013 to 2022, according to official government projections.

8

What share of the total Medicare population is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, such as a Medicare HMO or PPO, rather than the traditional Medicare program?

30% of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2014.

9

Does the health reform law close the Medicare prescription drug benefit’s “doughnut hole,” or coverage gap, so seniors no longer have to pay the full cost of their medications when they reach the gap?

The Medicare Part D drug benefit initially had a coverage gap, in which beneficiaries had to pay the full cost of their drugs after their total drug spending exceeded a certain amount, but the 2010 health reform law has begun to close this gap.

10

Under current law, how soon is Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund projected to become insolvent, meaning it will not have enough money to pay the full cost of beneficiaries’ hospital care?

According to the Medicare Trustees, the Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) Trust Fund that pays for inpatient hospital care is projected to have insufficient funds to pay for all care beginning in 2030.

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Medicare Quiz

You Answered out of 10 Questions Correctly.

Question

Correct Response

1

Approximately what share of the federal budget goes toward Medicare, the federal program that provides health insurance to elderly and disabled Americans across all income levels?

In 2013, Medicare accounted for 14 percent of total federal spending.

In 2013, Medicare accounted for 14 percent of total federal spending.  Social Security accounted for 23 percent of the federal budget and defense spending accounted for 18 percent, while federal spending on Medicaid accounted for 8 percent of the budget, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

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2

Half of all Medicare beneficiaries lived on incomes of less than what amount in 2013, including income from Social Security and all other sources?

In 2013, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $23,500 per person, including Social Security income, pension income, earnings, and income from other sources.

In 2013, half of all Medicare beneficiaries had incomes below $23,500 per person, including Social Security income, pension income, earnings, and income from other sources.  Furthermore, most beneficiaries had modest savings.  Half of all Medicare beneficiaries had savings of less than $61,400, including both retirement accounts and financial assets.

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3

Which one of the following services is not typically covered by Medicare?

Medicare does not typically cover the cost of a nursing home or other long-term care services and supports.

Medicare does not typically cover the cost of a nursing home or other long-term care services and supports.  The program provides coverage for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility following an inpatient hospital stay.  It also provides home health services in some circumstances.

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4

What share of all physicians (excluding pediatricians) report that they are accepting new Medicare patients in their practice?

According to a large, national survey of physicians, most non-pediatric doctors (91%) report that they accept new Medicare patients into their practice.

According to a large, national survey of physicians, most non-pediatric doctors (91%) report that they accept new Medicare patients into their practice—the same rate that accept new patients with private, non-capitated insurance, such as plans with preferred provider organizations. In every state, the majority of physicians report accepting new Medicare patients, but there is some variation among states. Surveys of Medicare seniors find that only about 2 percent report problems finding a new physician when they need one.

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5

Most large employer health plans protect enrollees from extraordinarily high medical bills by placing an annual limit on out-of-pocket costs. Does the traditional Medicare program do this?

The traditional Medicare program does not include an annual limit on beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending for inpatient hospital, physician visits, and other medical services covered under Medicare Parts A and B.

The traditional Medicare program does not include an annual limit on beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket spending for inpatient hospital, physician visits, and other medical services covered under Medicare Parts A and B.  Beneficiaries enrolled in Part D prescription drug plans are protected against catastrophic expenses, and are responsible for paying 5 percent of their total drug spending exceeding $6,691 in 2014.  While the traditional portion of the Medicare program does not include an out-of-pocket limit, Medicare Advantage plans do.  Medicare Advantage plans – private plans that contract with Medicare to provide Medicare benefits, currently covering almost one-third of beneficiaries – are required to include a limit on out-of-pocket spending for Medicare-covered services.  In 2014, all Medicare Advantage plans must have an out-of-pocket limit of no more than $6,700.

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6

Do all Medicare beneficiaries pay the same premium for coverage of physician and outpatient services, regardless of their income?

Medicare charges most beneficiaries the same Part B premium for physician and outpatient services – about $105 per month in 2014. However, higher-income beneficiaries (individuals with annual incomes over $85,000 and couples with annual incomes over $170,000) are required to pay more.

Medicare charges most beneficiaries the same Part B premium for physician and outpatient services – about $105 per month in 2014.  However, higher-income beneficiaries (individuals with annual incomes over $85,000 and couples with annual incomes over $170,000) are required to pay more.  These beneficiaries will pay from $147 to $336 per month in 2014, depending on their income.  Low-income Medicare beneficiaries with modest assets do not pay the Medicare Part B premium if they qualify for Medicaid.

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7

Is Medicare spending expected to grow faster or slower per person than private health insurance spending over the next decade?

Medicare spending per beneficiary is expected to grow slower than private health insurance spending on a per person basis from 2013 to 2022, according to official government projections.

Medicare spending per beneficiary is expected to grow slower than private health insurance spending on a per person basis from 2013 to 2022, according to official government projections.  Medicare’s relatively low growth rate is due in part to provisions in the 2010 health reform law, including reductions in annual payment updates to hospitals and other health care providers and reductions in payments to Medicare Advantage plans.

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8

What share of the total Medicare population is enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, such as a Medicare HMO or PPO, rather than the traditional Medicare program?

30% of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2014.

Medicare beneficiaries have the option to receive their Medicare benefits through private health plans, known as Medicare Advantage plans, as an alternative to the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program.  Medicare Advantage plans include health maintenance organizations (HMO), preferred provider organizations (PPOs) and other plan types.  In 2014, nearly 16 million of the 54 million people on Medicare are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

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9

Does the health reform law close the Medicare prescription drug benefit’s “doughnut hole,” or coverage gap, so seniors no longer have to pay the full cost of their medications when they reach the gap?

The Medicare Part D drug benefit initially had a coverage gap, in which beneficiaries had to pay the full cost of their drugs after their total drug spending exceeded a certain amount, but the 2010 health reform law has begun to close this gap.

The Medicare Part D drug benefit initially had a coverage gap, in which beneficiaries had to pay the full cost of their drugs after their total drug spending exceeded a certain amount, but the 2010 health reform law has begun to close this gap.  Starting in 2011, the health reform law gradually phases in coverage for beneficiaries who reach the “doughnut hole.”  By 2020, the share of total drug costs for which beneficiaries will be responsible will decrease to 25 percent -- the same share they pay prior to reaching the gap.

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10

Under current law, how soon is Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund projected to become insolvent, meaning it will not have enough money to pay the full cost of beneficiaries’ hospital care?

According to the Medicare Trustees, the Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) Trust Fund that pays for inpatient hospital care is projected to have insufficient funds to pay for all care beginning in 2030.

According to the Medicare Trustees, the Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) Trust Fund that pays for inpatient hospital care is projected to have insufficient funds to pay for all care beginning in 2030.  Part A Trust Fund solvency is affected by growth in the economy, which directly affects the amount of payroll taxes deposited into the Trust Fund, and by the demographic trends of an increasing number of beneficiaries and a declining ratio of workers making payroll tax contributions per beneficiary.  In the past, Congress has implemented policy changes that have extended the life of the Trust Fund by increasing revenue and/or reducing spending.

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