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Program on Medicare Policy

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The Facts on Medicare Spending and Financing

This fact sheet provides an overview of spending on the Medicare program and how the program is financed. It examines historical, recent, and future trends in Medicare spending, including the recent slowdown partially attributable to provisions in the Affordable Care Act of 2010, and includes the latest available data on Medicare financing.

How Much Is Enough? Out-of-Pocket Spending Among Medicare Beneficiaries: A Chartbook

This new analysis and chartbook examines out-of-pocket spending among Medicare beneficiaries, including spending on health and long-term care services and insurance premiums, using the most current year of data available from a nationally representative survey of people on Medicare. It explores which types of services account for a relatively large share of out-of-pocket spending, which groups of beneficiaries (including by age, gender, health status, and chronic conditions) are especially hard hit by high out-of-pocket costs, and trends in out-of-pocket spending between 2000 and 2010.

How are Seniors Choosing and Changing Health Insurance Plans?

This report summarizes first-hand accounts of seniors’ Medicare private plan decision making strategies, based on focus groups conducted in four cities. Seniors found the initial plan selection process overwhelming due to the volume of information they received and their inability to organize it. Few used the government’s online comparison tool, and those that did cite several shortcomings. Many relied on advice from sources they trust, including insurance agents, plan representatives, friends, family members, doctor’s offices and pharmacists. After they enroll in a plan, many seniors did not revisit their initial decision or review plan options without the strong provocation of a substantial increase in cost, change in coverage, or shift in personal health care needs. Moreover, they feared that a change in plans may disrupt their care, or lead to an unforeseen increase in out-of-pocket costs, and require them to learn new rules and requirements. They are doubtful they would end up in a plan that is appreciatively different or better for them. Overall, seniors preferred to have numerous choices in plans but would like personalized help and advice from experts to ease the process.

Medicare Advantage: Take Another Look

This Policy Insight explores possible explanations for the continued rise in Medicare Advantage enrollment between 2010 and 2013 in spite of a projected decrease following payment changes in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Medicare Advantage 2014 Spotlight: Enrollment Market Update

This Data Spotlight provides an overview of Medicare Advantage enrollment patterns in March 2014, and examines variations by plan type, state, and firm. It also analyzes trends in premiums paid by beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans and describes the changes in limits on out-of-pocket expenses and prescription drug coverage in the Part D “donut hole” provided by the plans in 2014.

Medicare Advantage Fact Sheet

This fact sheet provides an overview of the Medicare Advantage program, describes program changes made by the new health reform law in plan participation and beneficiary enrollment, presents data on benefits and premiums, and explains changes in Medicare payments to participating plans.

Retiree Health Benefits At the Crossroads

This issue brief reviews recent trends and developments in employer-sponsored retiree health coverage and examines the impact of recent legislation, such as the Medicare drug benefit and the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on retiree health coverage. The report describes leading strategies employers have been pursuing or considering to limit costs for retiree health benefits. In addition, the report considers the potential implications of proposals aimed at reducing federal spending for retiree health coverage and costs.