Shaping the future of Medicare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article suggests that further major changes in Medicare at this time are unwarranted. The enactment of the Balanced Budget Act (BBA) has eliminated the need for quick action to assure solvency of the Part A Trust Fund, which is projected to be in balance for at least ten years. It will take time to implement and assess the effects of the BBA. The uncertainties of future trends in the health sector and Medicare suggest a go-slow approach. Future reforms to finance health care as the baby boom generation retires should be guided by the goals of continuing to assure health and economic security to elderly and disabled beneficiaries, with particular attention to the financial burdens on lower-income beneficiaries and those with serious illnesses or chronic conditions. Employers are cutting back on retiree health coverage, and the appropriate contribution of employers will need to be addressed. The BBA included major provisions to expand Medicare managed care choices. Special attention will need to be given to how well these innovations work, their cost impact on Medicare, the extent to which beneficiaries are able to make informed choices, and whether risk selection among plans and between traditional Medicare and plans can be adequately addressed. Most of the savings of BBA came from tighter payment rates to managed care plans and fee-for-service providers; it is unclear whether these will lead to rates well below the private sector or whether further savings can be achieved by extending these changes beyond 2002.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)295-306
Number of pages12
JournalHealth services research
Volume34
Issue number1 II
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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