LinkPad: Percents, projections and Part D

As the U.S. healthcare system becomes increasingly expensive, legislators are looking for programs to slice and dice in order to cut costs. Despite the proven success of Medicare Part D, some lawmakers have discussed making cuts to the program. This week’s LinkPad takes a look at the chatter around Medicare and healthcare costs:

  • A new CBO report was released, showing that the use of prescription drugs actually lowers the cost of Medicare. For every one percent increase in the number of Medicare prescriptions filled, Medicare’s spending on other medical services decreases by 0.2 percent.
  • An Avalere Health representative commented on the company’s recently released a report, stating, “The shift of enrollees to low-cost plans validates that market competition works, as enrollees are rewarding sponsors with innovative packages that offer an attractive monthly premium.” Avalere projected that Medicare Part D premiums would remain stable.
  • Doug Schoen believes making cuts to Part-D would be a mistake. In fact, in his piece for Forbes, Schoen gives Part-D credit for lowering costs in our health care system, since the use of prescription drugs can lower costs elsewhere in Medicare.
  • The Center for Budget Policies and Priorities recently charted a Medicare spending forecast. Since 2010, the cost projections have shrunk by $511 billion. The drop in spending can mostly be attributed to the decreased rate of healthcare costs. In fact, for three years health care costs have been growing at the same pace as the rest of the economy.

Legislators continue to debate cutting the cost of health care, and Medicare will remain a hot topic in the media. As experts weigh in, however, it is clear that program works for seniors and contributes to savings in the Medicare system.  Changes to Part D should be kept off of the table.