Medicare Information and Plan Comparisons
While health care was not central to the 2016 Presidential campaign, the election’s outcome will be a major determining factor in the country’s future health care policy. A number of issues have garnered media attention, including the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), rising prescription drug costs, and the opioid epidemic.
Medicare Advantage 2014 Spotlight: Plan Availability and Premiums
While many organizations offer Medicare Advantage plans, a few – particularly Humana, United Healthcare, and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) affiliates – have particularly large geographic spread and these organizations historically account for a disproportionate share of enrollment. In 2014, 44 percent of available plans are being offered by one of these three firms or affiliates (Table A4). Plans offered by these firms are available to most beneficiaries. Nationwide, 83 percent of Medicare beneficiaries will have access to one or more Humana plans, 73 percent will have access to a BCBS affiliated plan (including BCBS plans offered by Wellpoint), and 68 percent will have access to a United Healthcare plan (Exhibit 5; Table A5). The general availability of these firms’ products has not noticeably changed from 2013 to 2014. However, the similarities in BCBS offerings from 2013 to 2014 obscure a decline in availability of BCBS branded Wellpoint plans (declining from 88 plans to 55 plans between 2013 and 2014), which is mostly offset by the growth in plans offered by other BCBS affiliates (growing from 205 plans to 233 plans between 2013 and 2014).
Understanding Medicare Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D
But as complicated as all that sounds, there’s a single key choice at the core of all your decision-making: Will you go with the Original Medicare plan, which is run by the federal government and consists of Parts A and B, or a Medicare Advantage plan (also called Part C) that is offered by a private insurer and approved by Medicare? Medicare Part A — Your Hospital Coverage When you apply to Medicare, you are automatically enrolled in the Part A plan. Part A is your hospital insurance plan. It covers nursing care and hospital stays, although not doctors’ fees. Part A also covers some home health services, skilled nursing care after a hospital stay and hospice care. You likely won’t have to pay a monthly premium for Medicare Part A, thanks in part to all the payroll taxes you paid while you were employed. You must, however, pay a yearly deductible before Medicare will cover any hospitalization costs. For 2011, the Part A deductible is $1,132.
Medicare Is More Efficient Than Private Insurance
The CBO explicitly stated that its data on relative cost growth should not be used to make the argument that Goodman and Saving make, writing that the relatively low growth rate of all health care expenditures other than Medicare and Medicaid “should not be interpreted as meaning that Medicare or Medicaid is less able to control spending than private insurers.” Goodman and Saving mistakenly suggest that the growth rate of private insurance is the same as the growth rate of all health care expenditures other than Medicare and Medicaid; however, as CBO points out, the growth rate of all health care expenditures other than Medicare and Medicaid includes not just spending by private insurers, but also government programs and out-of-pocket costs paid by the uninsured.