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Health Care on a Budget: The Financial Burden of Health Spending by Medicare Households

The Medicare program offers health and financial protection to nearly 50 million seniors and younger people with disabilities, though many beneficiaries still face significant out-of-pocket expenses. This analysis examines how much Medicare households spend on health-related expenses compared to other spending priorities and compared to non-Medicare households, the extent to which Medicare households’ health spending as a share of household budgets varies by age and poverty level, and changes in Medicare households’ health spending over time.

An Analysis of the Share of Medicare Beneficiaries Who Would Benefit from an Annual Out-of-Pocket Maximum under Traditional Medicare Over Multiple Years

This analysis examines the share of Medicare beneficiaries who would be helped over time if the program were to add a limit on out-of-pocket spending to traditional Medicare. This analysis was conducted jointly with the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) in response to a request made during a Feb. 26, 2013 hearing of the House Ways and Means’ Subcommittee on Health.

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.

Testimony: Income Security and the Elderly: Securing Gains Made in the War on Poverty

Senior Vice President Patricia Neuman testified before the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging as part of its hearing entitled Income Security and the Elderly: Securing Gains Made in the War on Poverty. As part of her testimony, she presented segments from a Foundation-produced video that highlights what it means to be old and poor in our country.

Old and Poor: America’s Forgotten

While the Census Bureau’s official poverty measure shows 9 percent of seniors nationally live in poverty, the share climbs to about one in seven seniors (15 percent) under the Bureau’s alternative Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account out-of-pocket health expenses and geographic differences in the cost of living. Produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation, Old and Poor: America’s Forgotten provides a portrait of seniors who are living in poverty, in both urban and rural areas across the United States.

Income and Assets of Medicare Beneficiaries, 2013 – 2030

This data spotlight, co-authored by researchers at the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Urban Institute, describes the income, savings, and home equity of current Medicare beneficiaries, considers variations by race, ethnicity and other demographic characteristics, and examines the extent to which income and assets are projected to be higher among the next generation of beneficiaries.