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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.

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.

Summary of Medicare Provisions in the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2015

On March 4, 2014, the Office of Management and Budget released President Obama’s budget for fiscal year (FY) 2015, which includes provisions related to federal spending and revenues, including Medicare savings. The President’s budget would use federal savings and revenues to reduce the federal debt and replace sequestration of Medicare and other federal programs for 2015 through 2024. This brief summarizes the Medicare provisions included in the President’s budget proposal for FY 2015.

Poverty Among Seniors: An Updated Analysis of National and State Level Poverty Rates Under the Official and Supplemental Poverty Measures

This brief presents data on poverty rates among seniors, as context for understanding the implications of potential changes to federal and state programs that help to bolster financial security among older adults. The analysis presents national and state-level poverty rates among people ages 65 and older, based on two measures from the U.S. Census Bureau, using data from the 2014 Current Population Survey (CPS): the official poverty measure and the Supplemental Poverty Measure.

Generations: Medicare at 50 Years

Published in a special Summer 2015 edition of the journal Generations on Medicare’s 50th anniversary, these six articles by Kaiser Family Foundation staff reflect on Medicare’s history, evolution and future, including a look at lessons and challenges, the Medicare and Medicaid partnership, coverage, the role of private plans, Medicare’s role for women, and the public opinion about the program. Foundation Senior Vice President Tricia Neuman served as co-editor, along with National Coalition on Health Care President and CEO John Rother. The articles are available courtesy of the American Society on Aging, which publishes Generations.

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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.