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Senior Citizen Politics
Lieberman-Coburn Medicare Proposal Could Stress
Strapped Senior Citizens: NPR Blog
Half of seniors had income under $22,000 in 2010;
25% had income under $13,000; just 5% had incomes above $85,000.
NPR Health Blog
June 29, 2011 - Can seniors afford to pay more for
Medicare? Medicare patients would pay more - in some cases much more -
under a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate today (Tuesday 6/29).
But can they really afford it?
Sens. Tom Coburn (R-OK) Joe Lieberman (I-CT) say
the savings to be realized from their
bill would both help reduce the nation's debt and shore up
Medicare's shaking financial situation.
Among other things their bill would combine the
current separate deductibles for Medicare's Part A (hospital and
inpatient care) and Part B (physician and outpatient care) into one
single deductible. Because so few Medicare patients actually use
hospital care each year, that would have the effect of
raising out-of pocket spending for the majority of people on the
To discourage what they say is the overuse of care
because supplemental private insurance covers what Medicare doesn't pay,
the bill would also prohibit such policies from paying the first $550
per year in required cost-sharing and limit coverage to 50 percent of a
newly created $7,500 out-of-pocket annual maximum beneficiaries could be
required to pay.
Wealthier beneficiaries, meanwhile (those earning
more than $85,000 per year) would have to pay higher premiums, and would
face a higher out-of-pocket maximum threshold.
But while the legislation, if passed, could take
relieve some financial pressure on Medicare, a new
study from researchers at Kaiser Family Foundation and the Urban
Institute suggests that seniors overall aren't as prosperous as many
politicians seem to think.
Half of seniors had income lower than $22,000 in
2010; 25 percent had income lower than $13,000. Only five percent had
incomes above $85,000.
And while 91 percent of today's Medicare
beneficiaries have savings, in most cases those nest eggs aren't nearly
enough to pay substantial medical bills. Half of seniors have savings
less than $50,000; a quarter have less than $8,400 money set aside. Ten
percent had more than half a million dollars, half of those people had a
million dollars or more.
Yet even with today's Medicare coverage, health
spending accounted for an average of nearly 15 percent of the average
Medicare household's budget in 2009, according to another Kaiser
study. That's three times the health care spending for those not on
Sure, most of the changes that are envisioned for
Medicare are not for this generation, but for the coming one. But the
future doesn't look much better for the baby boomers, the researchers
found. While incomes are likely to rise somewhat, income inequality is
likely to rise as well. That means beneficiaries who are white and
college-educated are likely to fare better than blacks or Hispanics, or
those with less education.
Click here to the NPR Health Blog for comments on this report and
the latest blogs.
information is reprinted from
kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J.
Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser
Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up
for email delivery. © Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. All
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