Explores why low-income people with Medicare struggle to pay for their health care and offers three ways to enable more Medicare beneficiaries to afford the care they need.
When President George W. Bush passed the Medicare Part D act in 2003, its launch raised some technological problems that left consumers frustrated. Now, most American seniors view their prescription drug coverage as invaluable and support this once-controversial legislation.
Enacted to subsidize increasingly high out-of-pocket costs, Medicare Part D makes prescription drug coverage affordable for its beneficiaries. But in the months following its inception, the media criticized virtually every aspect of the federal program.
This is the first blog in our Expert Q&A series on the Affordable Care Act. Our experts will answer common questions that people may have about open enrollment, which starts on October 1.
Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved more than $7 billion on prescription drugs. That’s an average of $1,061 per beneficiary.
Although Medicare provides vital health insurance for about 50 million seniors and people with disabilities, most people with Medicare have some form of additional coverage. Why is this coverage so important? And what are your options for getting this coverage? Let’s take a look.
According to the Medicare Trustees’ report released last Friday, the Medicare hospital insurance trust fund (which covers the hospital portion of Medicare expenditures), is now fully funded until 2026. That’s two years longer than was estimated in last year’s report, and nine years longer than projections prior to enactment of the Affordable Care Act. But what’s more significant than the actual year cited in the report is the encouraging trend in Medicare’s costs that underlies the projection: Health care costs, and Medicare costs in particular, are growing more slowly than in the past. This is encouraging news for Medicare and for the 50 million seniors and people with disabilities who rely on it. If these trends continue, Medicare’s future fiscal challenges become significantly more manageable.
Since Medicare Part D went into effect in 2006, prescription drugs have been an integral part of the Medicare benefit package. So, the question of how seniors can save additional money on medications often comes up, but so does the question of how the entire Medicare Part D program can be more cost-effective and save taxpayers money without jeopardizing enrollee benefits.
Today, members of Congress in both the House and the Senate introduced the Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2013, which would restore drug rebates for low-income people with Medicare. President Obama included a similar proposal in his budget last week, and for good reason. Getting Medicare a better price on prescription drugs would save the federal government more than $140 billion without shifting costs to low- and middle-income seniors.
The Department of Health and Human Services announced late last week that 6.3 million Medicare beneficiaries have saved a total of $6.1 billion on their prescription drug coverage since the enactment of Affordable Care Act in 2010.
For the third year in a row, the Republican majority in the House of Representatives has passed a budget proposal authored by Congressman Paul Ryan that transforms Medicare into a voucher system (also known as premium support). Starting in 2024, people born after 1958 would get a voucher to use toward either private insurance or traditional Medicare coverage. If the voucher is too small to buy adequate coverage, those who rely on Medicare will have to make up the difference with money out of their own pockets.