Protecting Seniors' Health Insurance, Strengthening Medicare

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a new report, America’s Seniors and Health Insurance Reform: Protecting Coverage and Strengthening Medicare. The report highlights the problems with the status quo that leave seniors paying escalating costs for their health care while outlining how health insurance reform will strengthen Medicare and protect coverage for seniors.

“Senior citizens have seen their premiums and out-of-pocket drug costs rise and without reform, many seniors on Medicare could lose access to the doctor they know and trust,” Secretary Sebelius said. “Health insurance reform will protect the coverage seniors depend on, improve the quality of care and help make Medicare strong.”

The report highlights current problems in the status quo and the solutions health insurance reform will provide, including:

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Overpayments to Private Plans: A typical older couple in traditional Medicare will pay almost $90 next year on average to subsidize private insurance companies who are not providing their health benefits. Health insurance reform will eliminate these overpayments.

High Prescription Drug Prices: Health insurance reform will cut the drug costs that seniors have to bear in the “doughnut hole” by 50 percent.

Imminent Doctors’ Payment Cut will Limit Access: Because of a flawed system for paying physicians, Medicare is scheduled to reduce its fees next year by 21 percent next year. According to a recent survey by the American Medical Association, if Medicare payments are cut by even half that amount, or 10 percent, 60 percent of physicians report that they will reduce the number of new Medicare patients they will treat, and 40 percent will reduce the number of established Medicare patients they treat. Health insurance reform will stop this cut and ensure seniors can continue to see the doctor they know and trust.

Preventing Medicare from Going Bankrupt: The Medicare Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is projected to be exhausted in eight years, sometime during 2017. Health insurance reform will reduce overpayments to private plans and clamp down on fraud and abuse to bring down premiums for all seniors and extend the life of the Medicare trust fund by five years.

“The status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable for seniors,” added Sebelius. “Health insurance reform will ensure our seniors have the quality, affordable coverage they deserve.”

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