Medicare could to be headed for an immediate crisis. According to a story aired today on National Public Radio, Congress has just a few days to stop a planned 21 percent cut in reimbursements to doctors who treat seniors and others covered by the massive program. Such a reduction could cause many physicians to stop accepting Medicare patients, says NPR.
As bad as things are now for the health system, they'll probably get worse as Baby Boomers age into retirement. Just how much will Medicare grow in California, currently home to the largest number of beneficiaries -- 4.5 million enrollees? A new report estimates that the state's elderly ppopulation (65+) will more than double by the year 2030. The RAND study, Medicare Facts and Figures Chartbook, is intended to provide health providers, policymakers and advocates with essential data on California's Medicare recipients. Major findings:
Medicare reimbursement for care delivered to California beneficiaries is higher than the national average -- about $600 more per beneficiary in 2006.
In 2004 and 2005, total annual medical payments per Medicare beneficiary in California averaged $11,326, of which $1,330 (11 percent) came out of the beneficiaries' own pockets.
A large percentage of Medicare beneficiaries suffer from multiple chronic illnesses. In 2005, 79 percent reported having two or more chronic conditions, and 37 percent reported four or more.