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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.

Questions About Essential Health Benefits

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) recently issued its long-awaited report on defining the essential health benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As expected, the committee preparing the IOM report did not recommend which specific services should be covered, but rather discussed what the process should be for defining the essential benefits,…

The Budget Trigger and Health Reform

No doubt it will take some time to sort out how elements of the debt deal (formally “The Budget Control Act of 2011”) will all work. Delving into the details of how it affects subsidies in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to make insurance more affordable helps to illustrate how…

Private Insurance Benefits and Cost-Sharing Under the ACA

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released guidance on the two key components that determine the level of protection that private insurance plans will provide to consumers under health reform. The first involves the services that insurance plans must cover, and the second involves how much patients…

Betting on Private Insurers

Just-released estimates of national health spending in 2010 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show that 45% of our health care spending is financed by the federal and state governments, primarily through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. This share has grown temporarily in recent years because of the…

Transparency and Complexity

This fall a new rule takes effect requiring all private health plans to offer a uniform, simple to read, summary of benefits and coverage (SBC).  The SBC will provide consumers with standardized information about how plans cover essential health benefits and what coverage limits and cost sharing applies. The SBC…

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.