MedPAC wants seniors to pay more for care

A new report by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommends that seniors bear more cost-sharing of their healthcare expenses.

In its June report to Congress, MedPAC proposes co-payments for Medicare Part B, but also capping of out-of-pocket costs. Medicare's benefits structure has been virtually unchanged since its introduction in 1965, while use of services has increased dramatically, according to the report.

"The Commission has been considering ways to reform the traditional benefit package so that it gives beneficiaries better protection against high out-of-pocket (OOP) spending and creates incentives for them to make better decisions about their use of discretionary care," the report states.

The recommendations include a 20 percent cost-sharing surcharge on those Medicare enrollees who purchase supplemental policies for physician care and outpatient services, Reuters reported. However, that would be tempered by a $5,000 cap on annual out-of-pocket expenses.

MedPAC also recommends that changes be made to the deductibles for Part A and B coverage for physician visits and hospitals. A $500 deductible would be used to encourage more preventive care and fewer inpatient stays, according to Reuters.

The recommendations are meant not only to cost-shift but  also slow down growth in Medicare spending. Congress is not expected to vote on the recommendations anytime soon, Reuters noted.

To learn more:
- here's the MedPAC report (.pdf)
- read the Reuters article
- read the AHA News Now brief

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