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Medicare
Medicare Part D: A First Look at Plan Offerings in 2016

During the Medicare open enrollment period, beneficiaries have the opportunity to enroll in a plan that provides Part D prescription drug coverage, either a stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP) to supplement traditional Medicare, or a Medicare Advantage drug plan. This issue brief provides an overview of the 2016 PDP marketplace, focusing on key changes from 2015, based on analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It presents analysis of PDP availability, premiums, benefit design, and low-income subsidy plans.

What’s In and What’s Out? Medicare Advantage Market Entries and Exits for 2016

This Issue Brief examines the availability of Medicare Advantage plans nationwide and by state in 2016, and tracks changes in plan availability since 2012. It documents the number and share of Medicare Advantage enrollees affected by plan withdrawals each year, the characteristics of plans that will be entering or exiting the market in 2016, and the potential implications of these changes for Medicare Advantage enrollees.

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.

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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.