Seniors may have to pay their way through Medicare costs

Jasmine Phu

December 1, 2010

As the government tries to cut the $1.3 trillion national deficit and curb costs, Medicare has come under the spotlight in recent weeks. One controversial measure that is being considered is to allocate a set amount of money to seniors for their health expenses, reports.

This unprecedented move would be accompanied by spikes in monthly premiums. Some officials also want to start a voucher program, which would act as a check for coverage costs, replacing the guarantee of benefits that Medicare currently offers.

These changes wouldn't take place until 2021, but some senior advocacy groups have already protested the plans.

"The burden of Medicare out-of-pocket costs is already very high, to the point where many people are literally having to choose between necessities of life and health care," John Rother, AARP executive vice president, told the news provider. "I don't think it's possible or advisable to further load people of modest incomes with very high healthcare costs."

However, almost every official in Washington seems to agree that something needs to be done. Medicare is expected to cost around $519 billion this year and balloon to $929 billion in 2020, the news source reports.

The Century Foundation, Demos and the Economic Policy Institute, which are three liberal organizations, have suggested that President Obama's healthcare reform package has already included cost-saving measures for the program, but it seems that these measures may not be enough.

"There's intensifying pressure to control Medicare costs and that pressure is only going to intensify more over time when you look at the deficit," Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of social medicine and health policy, told the news source.

One of the most prominent changes that has been proposed is a 10 percent increase in Medicare Part B costs to beneficiaries, in the form of a higher monthly premium.

Some increases in prices have already been enacted – U.S. News & World Report states that those who enrolled in Medicare before 2010 pay $96.40 each month for Plan B, while those who are subscribing in 2011 will be paying $115.40.

This highlights the need for some seniors to cut their own medical costs at every corner. Installing a medical alert system in a home can ensure that older adults can instantly contact doctors in the case of an emergency.

Because seniors can send these medical alerts if they need assistance, this device can offer an affordable method of reducing the duration of post-operation hospital stays and homecare expenses.

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