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Program on Medicare Policy

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Medicare’s Role for People Under Age 65 with Disabilities

This issue brief examines the role of Medicare for people under age 65 with disabilities, including how this group qualifies for Medicare, the characteristics of people under age 65 with disabilities compared to those age 65 or older, and how sources of supplemental coverage and prescription drug coverage, spending and use of services, and access to care differ for Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 with disabilities and older beneficiaries.

The Facts on Medicare Spending and Financing

This issue brief examines the latest facts about Medicare spending and financing, includes the most recent historical and projected Medicare spending data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary (OACT), the 2016 annual report of the Boards of Medicare Trustees, and the 2016 Medicare baseline and projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). It discusses historical and projected spending trends, program financing, Medicare’s financial condition, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), and the future outlook.

Modifying Medicare’s Benefit Design: What’s the Impact on Beneficiaries and Spending?

This report examines an approach to reforming Medicare that has been a focus of Congressional hearings and featured in several broader debt reduction and entitlement reform proposals, and was included in the June 2016 House Republican health plan. The analysis models four different options for modifying Medicare’s benefit design, all of which include a single deductible, modified cost-sharing requirements, a new cost-sharing limit, and a prohibition on first-dollar Medigap coverage. The analysis models the expected effects on out-of-pocket spending by beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, and assesses how each option is expected to affect spending by the federal government, state Medicaid programs, employers, and other payers, assuming full implementation in 2018.

Medicare Payment System Reforms: What Do We Know?

Medicare is testing new ways to pay for medical services, emphasizing value rather than volume, and evidence is beginning to build about successes and challenges. On Monday, April 11, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and the Alliance for Health Reform will host a briefing to examine what we know so far…

An Overview of Medicare

This issue brief provides an overview of Medicare, the health insurance program for people ages 65 and over and younger people with permanent disabilities. The brief review the characteristics of people on Medicare, what Medicare covers, benefit gaps and supplemental coverage, beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket health care spending, program spending and financing, payment and delivery system reform, and issues for the future of Medicare.

Profile of Medicare Beneficiaries by Race and Ethnicity: A Chartpack

This chartpack draws on data and analysis from a variety of sources to profile the Medicare population through the lens of race and ethnicity, describing life expectancy, demographic characteristics, income and savings, health status and chronic conditions, supplemental coverage, selected measures of access to care, and service utilization.

Searching for Savings in Medicare Drug Price Negotiations

In response to higher drug spending growth and heightened attention to drug prices, some policymakers and presidential candidates are proposing to allow Medicare to negotiate the price of prescription drugs. This issue brief provides a short history of this proposal, describes various approaches, and assessments of their potential savings from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and considers the prospects for action in the future.

It Pays to Shop: Variation in Out-of-Pocket Costs for Medicare Part D Enrollees in 2016

This analysis focuses on out-of-pocket drug costs for Medicare Part D enrollees in 2016 for specialty, brand, and generic drugs. Part D drug plans differ considerably in the drugs they list on their formularies, their use of formulary tiers, and the level and structure of cost sharing applied to those tiers. Plan decisions affect different beneficiaries in different ways, depending on the drugs they use. The financial consequences for Part D plan enrollees can be substantial. In addition to examining costs for common drugs, we also examine profiles of multiple drugs for several hypothetical Part D enrollees.

What’s in Store for Medicare’s Part B Premiums and Deductible in 2016, and Why?

As a result of the recently-enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, the Medicare Part B monthly premium will be $121.80 in 2016 according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, an increase of 16 percent over the 2015 amount for 30 percent of beneficiaries —far lower than the 52 percent increase initially projected by the Medicare actuaries. This Issue Brief reviews how Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles are affected by the recent budget deal (including the premium surcharge that covers the costs) and explains the connection between the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA), Medicare premiums, and the “hold harmless” provision that will keep premiums flat for 70 percent of beneficiaries in 2016.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.