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Health Care on a Budget: The Financial Burden of Health Spending by Medicare Households

The Medicare program offers health and financial protection to nearly 50 million seniors and younger people with disabilities, though many beneficiaries still face significant out-of-pocket expenses. This analysis examines how much Medicare households spend on health-related expenses compared to other spending priorities and compared to non-Medicare households, the extent to which Medicare households’ health spending as a share of household budgets varies by age and poverty level, and changes in Medicare households’ health spending over time.

Private Insurance Benefits and Cost-Sharing Under the ACA

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released guidance on the two key components that determine the level of protection that private insurance plans will provide to consumers under health reform. The first involves the services that insurance plans must cover, and the second involves how much patients…

Betting on Private Insurers

Just-released estimates of national health spending in 2010 by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show that 45% of our health care spending is financed by the federal and state governments, primarily through the Medicare and Medicaid programs. This share has grown temporarily in recent years because of the…

Transparency and Complexity

This fall a new rule takes effect requiring all private health plans to offer a uniform, simple to read, summary of benefits and coverage (SBC).  The SBC will provide consumers with standardized information about how plans cover essential health benefits and what coverage limits and cost sharing applies. The SBC…

2012 Employer Health Benefits Survey

This annual survey of employers provides a detailed look at trends in employer-sponsored health coverage, including premiums, employee contributions, cost-sharing provisions, and other relevant information. The survey continues to document employer’s implementation of health reform with question on the percent of firms with grandfathered health plans and enrollment of adult children due to the new health reform law. The 2012 survey included 3,326 randomly selected public and private firms with three or more employees (2,121 of which responded to the full survey and 1,205 of which responded to an additional question about offering coverage).

Health Care Costs: A Primer

This primer on health care spending in the United States reviews the growth in health care spending since 1970 and the impact of health care costs on families and employers.

Adding an Out-of-Pocket Spending Maximum to Medicare: Implementation Issues and Challenges

In an effort to simplify Medicare’s cost-sharing requirements, provide beneficiaries with catastrophic protection, and achieve program savings, some have proposed to restructure Medicare’s benefit design. Several recent proposals would create a unified deductible for Medicare Parts A and B, simplify cost-sharing requirements above the deductible, and add an annual limit on beneficiary out-of-pocket spending—a benefit feature typical of larger employer plans, but lacking in traditional Medicare. This issue brief describes the options for adding an out-of-pocket spending limit to Medicare and examines the operational issues that could arise in implementing both a uniform and an income-based out-of-pocket spending limit. Because the implementation of an income-related out-of-pocket maximum would pose somewhat greater complexity for Medicare, the operational issues associated with this approach are discussed in greater detail.

Tax Subsidies for Private Health Insurance

This brief describes the different forms of tax assistance for private health insurance, including subsidies offered through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces and benefits for people who are self-employed or who have employer-based coverage. The brief also provides examples of how the subsidies work and how the amounts may differ by income and type of coverage.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.