September 3, 2014
Per Capita Medicare Spending Is Actually Falling (Margot Sanger-Katz, 9/03/14, NY Times)
Posted by Orrin Judd at September 3, 2014 12:45 PM
This year, Medicare, which covers those 65 and older and people with disabilities, will spend about $ 11,200 on average for every person enrolled in the program. By comparison, it spent $12,000 three years ago, in inflation-adjusted dollars. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the number will fall below $11,000 by 2017 and stay below this year's number until 2020. [...]The recent pattern reflects two main factors. One is that the baby boom generation is entering the program. In the long term, that's a problem for Medicare's finances because the number of people it must care for is going to surge. But in the short term, it skews the group enrolled in Medicare toward a younger, healthier population.The second factor is more surprising and consequential. Over the last few years, Medicare patients have been using fewer expensive medical services, particularly hospital care and prescription drugs. The budget office is increasingly persuaded that such a pattern is going to last for a while.