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The Latest on Geographic Variation in Medicare Spending: A Demographic Divide Persists But Variation Has Narrowed

This report uses the most current data available to analyze Medicare per beneficiary spending, by county, in 2013; the growth in Medicare per beneficiary spending between 2007 and 2013, by county; and the extent to which geographic variation in Medicare per beneficiary spending has increased or decreased over time. The analysis finds that beneficiaries living in counties with relatively high Medicare per beneficiary spending tend to be sicker and poorer than beneficiaries living in lower-spending counties and that the gap between high and low-spending counties narrows but does not close after adjustments are made for differences in prices and beneficiaries’ health status. The analysis also shows that the amount of variation between the highest- and lowest-spending counties appears to have narrowed in recent years, raising questions as to whether these changes are due to specific shifts in payment policy. An interactive U.S. map showing county-level Medicare spending is also available.

Medicare Part D at Ten Years: The 2015 Marketplace and Key Trends, 2006-2015

Since 2006, Medicare beneficiaries have had access through Medicare Part D to prescription drug coverage offered by private plans, either stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs) or Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans (MA-PD plans). Now in its tenth year, Part D has evolved due to changes in the private plan marketplace and the laws and regulations that govern the program. This report presents findings from an analysis of the Medicare Part D marketplace in 2015 and changes in features of the drug benefit offered by Part D plans since 2006.

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: September 2015

As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services prepares to finalize a plan to pay physicians for discussing end-of-life treatment options with Medicare patients, this month’s Kaiser Health Tracking Poll finds that about 8 in 10 of the public favors Medicare and private insurance covering such discussions and about 9 in 10 say doctors should have these discussions with their patients. However, relatively few (17 percent) say they’ve had such discussions with a doctor or other health care provider, while half of the public says they would want to have such a discussion. Overall, opinion of the health care law has remained divided with similar shares reporting favorable views (41 percent) and unfavorable views (45 percent), with opinion starkly divided by party. The Kaiser Health Policy News Index also finds that the 2016 presidential election is the most widely followed news story included in this month’s Index, placing far ahead of health policy news stories.

Public Strongly Favors End-of-Life Conversations Between Doctors and Patients, With About Eight in 10 Saying Medicare and Other Insurers Should Cover These Visits

Six in 10 Oppose ‘Cadillac Plan Tax’ on High-Cost Health Plans Set to Take Effect in 2018, But Cost Savings Argument Can Change Some Opinions Views on the Affordable Care Act Remain Divided: 45% Unfavorable, 41% Favorable As the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services prepares to finalize a plan…

Income and Assets of Medicare Beneficiaries, 2014 – 2030

This issue brief, 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.

Long-Term Care in the United States: A Timeline

Long-term care (LTC) in the United States has evolved over the course of the last century to better serve the needs of seniors and person with disabilities. This long-term care timeline outlines the major milestones in LTC from the nursing home era, which created an institutional bias in LTC, to the era of home and community based services (HCBS) and integration, and into the era of health reform and beyond.

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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.