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Health Care Costs: A Primer

This primer on health care spending in the United States reviews the growth in health care spending since 1970 and the impact of health care costs on families and employers.

Adding an Out-of-Pocket Spending Maximum to Medicare: Implementation Issues and Challenges

In an effort to simplify Medicare’s cost-sharing requirements, provide beneficiaries with catastrophic protection, and achieve program savings, some have proposed to restructure Medicare’s benefit design. Several recent proposals would create a unified deductible for Medicare Parts A and B, simplify cost-sharing requirements above the deductible, and add an annual limit on beneficiary out-of-pocket spending—a benefit feature typical of larger employer plans, but lacking in traditional Medicare. This issue brief describes the options for adding an out-of-pocket spending limit to Medicare and examines the operational issues that could arise in implementing both a uniform and an income-based out-of-pocket spending limit. Because the implementation of an income-related out-of-pocket maximum would pose somewhat greater complexity for Medicare, the operational issues associated with this approach are discussed in greater detail.

Paying a Visit to the Doctor: Current Financial Protections for Medicare Patients When Receiving Physician Services

This issue brief explains provisions in current law that shield beneficiaries from unexpected and confusing charges when they see physicians and practitioners—namely, the participating provider program, limitation on balance billing, and conditions on private contracting for doctors who opt out of Medicare or join “concierge” practices. It also analyzes the implications of modifying these provisions for beneficiaries, providers, and the Medicare program.

Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans: The Marketplace in 2013 and Key Trends, 2006-2013

This report presents findings from an analysis of the Medicare Part D marketplace in 2013 and changes in drug coverage and costs since 2006. It presents key findings related to Medicare drug plan availability, enrollment, premiums, low-income subsidies, the coverage gap, benefit design, cost sharing, formularies, and utilization management, based on data from CMS for all plans participating in Part D. The analysis was conducted jointly by researchers at Georgetown University, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.

2013 Employer Health Benefits Survey

This annual Employer Health Benefits Survey (EHBS) provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and other relevant information. The 2013 EHBS survey finds average family health premiums rose 4 percent in 2013, relatively modest growth by historical standards.

Medicaid Expansion through Premium Assistance: Key Issues for Beneficiaries in Arkansas’ Section 1115 Demonstration Waiver Proposal

This issue brief provides background about Medicaid premium assistance in the individual health insurance market, summarizes major components of Arkansas’ Section 1115 demonstration waiver application to implement the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion through premium assistance, and considers key issues affecting beneficiaries.