Two Thirds Of Older Households Spending More Than 24 Percent Of Their Social Security Benefits On Healthcare
With more than 17 million Medicare Advantage enrollees, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hasn't been able to ensure that their risk scores are accurate. When CMS has checked, nearly one - third of the scores were too high. "Given the size of Medicare Advantage, even a small error can add up to billions in overpayments," says TSCL Executive Director Shannon Benton. "TSCL believes that home visits should be focused on providing better care to the patient, not boosting health plan profits." .The other big variable in health care is insuring against the risk of a big tab for long-term care. This is an area where we just don't have very good options right now. The market for private long-term care insurance doesn't function very well -- the cost of coverage has been soaring, and the number of insurance companies in the market has been shrinking. Medicaid is the country's biggest payer for nursing home bills, but you need to spend down to poverty levels to qualify and most often your care choices are limited. The other options are "self-insuring" paying out of pocket if you're very affluent, or if like many older senior Americans, you rely on family members for help. .Federal prosecutors recently announced the biggest-ever one-day takedown of a phony Medicare billing scheme. One hundred seven people were charged, including doctors and nurses in seven U.S. cities, with taking part in a scheme to steal 2 million from Medicare. About the same time, the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services reported that federal investigators have uncovered questionable billings at 2,600 drugstores nationwide. A pharmacy in Kansas billed Medicare for more than 1,000 prescriptions each for just two patients. Medicare paid .6 billion to the drugstores whose billings are now being questioned. While those announcements generated great election year headlines, the fact is that seniors and taxpayers can only hope to see a tiny fraction of Medicare's money recovered. … Continued
Legislative Update Week Ending July 21 2017
Both retirees and the disabled spend a very significant portion of their incomes on healthcare costs. For many, health insurance premiums are the most significant expense that they incur every month. That includes what the government automatically deducts for Medicare Part B, and what individuals shell out for a Medicare Advantage plan or Medigap policy, and Part D drug plan. According to a policy brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation, premiums account for the largest share of Medicare beneficiaries' out-of-pocket health spending. Four-in-ten Medicare beneficiaries spend more than 10 percent of their income on premiums alone. To get a better idea of what the government does track, here's a list from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS has classified all expenditure items into more than 200 categories, arranged into eight major groups. Major groups and examples of categories in each include: .Guarantee a minimum COLA of no less than 3 percent. .America's seniors deserve a secure retirement without the constant worry of how to make ends meet. Washington should be helping in this effort, not making it harder. But that's not what's happening. … Continued
Finally, two new cosponsors signed on to the Preventing and Reducing Improper Medicare and Medicaid Expenditures (PRIME) Act (H.R. 2305) this week, bringing the total up to sixty-five. The new cosponsors are Reps. Tom Cotton (AR-4) and Matt Cartwright (PA-17). If signed into law, the PRIME Act would take a number of steps to comprehensively prevent fraud, waste, and abuse within Medicare and Medicaid – a problem that TSCL believes must be addressed in order to ensure that scarce program dollars are being spent properly. .When he first ran for office, candidate Trump promised he would not make any attempt to cut Social Security or Medicare while he is President. But in an interview this week with CNBC's Joe Kernan, and definitely something we will be keeping a close eye on, President Trump mentioned in a news conference that cutting entitlements (Social Security and Medicare) is not off the table. .The value of my 401(k) fell in March of this year and still hasn't fully recovered. I turned 70 in April. Will I be forced to sell investments at a loss in order to withdraw the required minimum amount? .Using the tool takes computer know-how, and interpreting the results can take some special training. You can get free unbiased help through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Call your local Area Agency on Aging. Check the number in your local phone book and when you call, say you need help comparing drug plans. .Enrollees in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans should take a careful look at changes in their health plan for 201These Medicare health plans have new leeway to offer new supplemental benefits. While some of the new benefits may be valuable to some families, other changes, which give plans greater leeway to "tier" the co-pay structure for healthcare providers, may mean higher out-of-pocket costs when non-preferred or out-of-network providers are used. .The vast majority of illegal immigrants come to this country for jobs. To obtain one, they need documentation to show an employer. There's a huge underground business in the manufacture and distribution of phony or even stolen Social Security numbers (SSNs). According to media reports, counterfeit SSNs and papers can be purchased on the streets for under ,000. .Nine prominent physician groups recently released lists of 45 common tests and treatments they say are often unnecessary. The problem is costing you dearly — as much as one third of every healthcare dollar, researchers say. As someone supposed to be giving you tips on how to save money, I'm embarrassed to admit that earlier this year I was a victim of overzealous medical testing. I'm not on Medicare yet, but what happened to me is happening to millions of those of you who are. .Most of the negotiators seem relieved to have reached a compromise, but it's clear that neither party is thrilled with the concessions they had to make. In a telling statement, one of the twenty conferees, Rep. Henry Waxman (CA-30), said of the deal: "It's not so bad that I would vote against it." Another conferee, Rep. Kevin Brady (TX-8) stated however, "At the end of the day, we have prevented a disruption to our economy, avoided a tax increase on working families. and ensured our local doctors will not be punished merely for treating seniors in Medicare." .While most people have rebounded, too many mature workers are still struggling to find work, much less a good-paying job. According to a survey by AARP, half of mature workers who experienced unemployment between 2010-2014 were still looking for work five years later.