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Medicare 101: What You Need To Know

Hosted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Alliance for Health Reform, this briefing reviewed basic questions about the Medicare program, such as: What services does Medicare provide, and how does Medicare pay for these services? How is Medicare financed? What changes did the Affordable Care Act (ACA) make to Medicare? How fast is Medicare spending growing? What are current proposals to strengthen Medicare for the future, and what are prospects for action in the new Congress?

The Story of Medicare: A Timeline

Written and produced by Foundation staff, The Story of Medicare: A Timeline serves as a visual timeline of Medicare’s history, including the debate that led to its creation in 1965 and subsequent changes, such as the passage and repeal of the Medicare Catastrophic Coverage Act in the 1980s, the Medicare Modernization Act in 2003, and the Affordable Care Act in 2012.

Medicare Timeline

In 1965, Medicare was created to provide health insurance for the nation’s seniors beginning in 1966. Fifty years later, the program covers over 54 million people – primarily seniors but also others under age 65 with permanent disabilities. Medicare helps pay for a range of medical services, including hospital stays, physician visits, preventive benefits, and starting in 2006, prescription drugs. This timeline provides an overview of changes that have shaped the Medicare program over the past five decades.

Medicare’s Income-Related Premiums: A Data Note

This data note presents new information to help set a context for understanding the implications of proposed changes to Medicare’s income-related premiums. It describes current-law requirements with respect to the income-related premiums under Medicare Part B and Part D, including the number and share of Medicare beneficiaries who are estimated to pay income-related premiums and revenues raised from the income-related premium, based on data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary (OACT).

A Primer on Medicare: Key Facts About the Medicare Program and the People it Covers

This primer explains key elements of the Medicare program, which now provides health coverage to 55 million people — including 46 million people age 65 and older and another 9 million younger adults with permanent disabilities. It looks at the characteristics of the Medicare population, what benefits are covered, how much people with Medicare pay for their benefits and the program’s overall costs and future financing challenges.

How Much (More) Will Seniors Pay for a Doc Fix?

In this Policy Insight, the Foundation’s Cristina Boccuti and Tricia Neuman examine how Congress’ effort to permanently stave off scheduled cuts in Medicare’s physician payments could affect what Medicare beneficiaries pay for their care — both in premiums and in other potential changes — to offset the cost of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) “doc fix.”

Summary of Medicare Provisions in the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016

On February 2, 2015, the Office of Management and Budget released President Obama’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2016, which includes provisions related to federal spending and revenues, including Medicare savings. The President’s FY2016 budget proposal would reduce net Medicare spending by $423 billion between 2016 and 2025, and is estimated to extend the solvency of the Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund by approximately five years. This brief summarizes the Medicare provisions included in the President’s FY2016 Budget.

New Report on the “Rising Cost of Living Longer” Details Medicare Spending by Age

A new report, The Rising Cost of Living Longer: Analysis of Medicare Spending by Age for Beneficiaries in Traditional Medicare, from the Kaiser Family Foundation takes a detailed look at per person Medicare spending by age and by service among the nearly 30 million people covered by traditional Medicare in 2011

The Rising Cost of Living Longer: Analysis of Medicare Spending by Age for Beneficiaries in Traditional Medicare

This analysis provides a detailed look at per person Medicare spending on the nearly 30 million beneficiaries over age 65 who are enrolled in the traditional Medicare program. Among the key findings of the report is that per person spending rises with age, peaking at age 96. But this rise is not entirely explained by Medicare spending on end of life care, which declines with age. What Medicare spends money on also changes as beneficiaries age. Hospital care is the largest component of Medicare spending throughout the age curve, up to age 100, but there is less spending on physician services and more on home health, skilled nursing and hospice care as beneficiaries age.