Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It’s More Than Just Nickels and Dimes

So you probably saw the headline this morning... “Medicare Premiums Up 3.1%” ...and thought ‘hey that’s not so bad’. At least that what CMS hopes you think.

But Medicare premiums are just one part of the picture. Seniors are also facing higher co-payments, out of pocket costs, rising prescription drug fees and doughnut holes. In 2000, the Medicare Part B premium was $45.50. Next year it will be $96.40. This 112% increase is certainly not good news for seniors living on a fixed income. Social Security cost of living increases just can’t keep up with rising healthcare costs, which continue to grow unchecked. These programs aren’t flawed, healthcare costs are running amok.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has issued a new report describing the real challenges facing seniors...

The long-run solution is to control the costs not just of Medicare, but of the entire health care system. The United States spends a much higher share of GDP on health care services than other countries, yet in many instances produces less favorable outcomes.

Here is coverage of yesterday’s Medicare premium announcement. We also shouldn’t forget that this 2008 premium is artificially low. It assumes that Congress will cut payments to doctors, which is unlikely, meaning there's a possibility those costs will be passed on to beneficiaries in later years.

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