Medicare Fund Future Still Grim

Margaret Dick Tocknell, June 3, 2013

The Medicare program's current forecast is slightly less bleak than last year's, but the fund is headed for insolvency in 2026, say the trustees of the Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund.

This isn't exactly dance-in-the-street news but the federal Medicare program is heading for insolvency at a slightly slower pace than previously forecast.

Thanks to lower projected spending, lower projected Medicare Advantage program costs, and some technical changes in calculating projections, Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund will remain solvent until 2026, the 2013 Medicare Trustees Report shows. That's two years longer than the 2012 report estimated.

The reprieve extends to 2014 premiums for Medicare Part B, which pays outpatient expenses. Those premiums are expected to remain unchanged from 2013 levels. Also, the report confirms that Medicare Part B and Part D, which provides access to prescription drug coverage, will remain adequately financed indefinitely, in accordance with current federal law.

The fact remains, however, that the Medicare program is still headed for insolvency. "The core message from the trustees is that Medicare's financial future remains in jeopardy and structural reform is essential… it cannot be argued that the status quo is sustainable," said Mary R. Grealy, in a prepared statement. Grealy is president of the Healthcare Leadership Council, a coalition of healthcare chief executives.

Margaret Dick Tocknell Margaret Dick Tocknell is a reporter/editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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