The Affordable Care Act (ACA) improved insurance affordability and access for all Americans, including those eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, and private coverage offered through the health insurance marketplace. It strengthened Medicare in many ways — by closing the Part D prescription drug doughnut hole, offering free preventive services, and extending the life of the Medicare trust fund. However, the ACA’s improvements to Medicaid and private market insurance highlight longstanding shortfalls in programs that assist low-income Medicare beneficiaries with their health care costs.
Today, July 30, we celebrate the 49th anniversary of one of the federal government’s most critical social insurance programs: Medicare. As the primary source of health coverage for 41 million older adults and 9 million people with disabilities, Medicare makes a huge difference in people’s lives and well-being. For the vast majority of beneficiaries, Medicare works well, and consumers are very satisfied with the health care they receive. But there is always room for improvement: Making it easier for low-income people to afford their out-of-pocket health care costs would make a good program even better.
Four Strategies for Improving Programs that Help Low-Income Medicare Beneficiaries with Health Care Costs
Low-income people with Medicare often struggle with high out-of-pocket health care costs. This brief identifies four strategies that advocates and policymakers can use to improve the programs that help these beneficiaries.
Explains the Qualified Individual (QI) program and provides a 50-state look at how people benefit, including how many people get help and how much money QI puts in their pockets.
A recent report from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) points to one more reason why expanding health coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) makes good economic sense. Expanding Medicaid can eliminate gaps in the health coverage of those who eventually enroll in Medicare. This drives down Medicare’s costs because enrollees tend to enroll in the program in better health.