Medicare is a program set forth by the Social Security Administration to provide those who are elderly or disabled with insurance coverage. It’s estimated that there are currently 19.9 million people who utilize this service, and by 2050, it’s estimated that there will be more than 89 million on Medicare.
Sadly, even with this insurance protection, almost half of these individuals are economically vulnerable since this program doesn’t cover all their medical expenses. They are often left to pay money out of pocket for things like prescriptions, glasses, and oral health services. Is Medicare enough for an aging population, or does this program need to be reformed?
The Cost of an Aging Population
Today, there are more than 46 million people over the age of 65, and that number is only growing. By 2035, there will be more older adults than children in this country. By 2050, the demand is expected to exceed the funds in the program. Currently, the standard rate for a supplemental Part B plan is $144.60 a month. The small cost of living increases are barely enough to keep pace with rising costs. Those individuals who are at or below the poverty level can get supplemental insurance by piggybacking onto the Medicaid system.
With an ever-growing population, the Medicaid program is in trouble. As of 2017, it was more than $3.5 million in debt. However, within the next 30 years, both the Medicare and Social Security systems are expected to be indebted more than $82 trillion. Something must be done.
Limits of Medicare
Most people think that once they get Medicare all their medical worries will cease. However, the limitations on the program make financial relief far from reality. At no cost, the program benefits include Part A, which is hospitalization insurance. This leaves Part B, which is known as medical insurance. Part A includes coverage for hospitalization and some nursing facility charges. There is no premium to have this insurance, but there are limits. For instance, it won’t pay for most nursing home care. Generally speaking, 24-hour in-home care is not covered, though part-time is.
On Part B, users must pay a premium. It covers lab tests, medical equipment, X-rays and doctor visits. The premium is deducted each month from the recipient’s Social Security check. There is also a deductible based on the plan that a person signs on with, and it leaves the insured responsible for over 20 percent of their major medical bills. Unfortunately, many seniors don’t have the capability to pay such amounts.
Supplemental Insurance Is Costly
There are many agencies offering supplemental Part B insurance policies that can reduce the burden of out-of-pocket expenses. For instance, you can choose a policy that has a higher monthly premium but lower deductible and copays. So, each person must evaluate whether it’s wise to sign on with a supplemental insurance provider to get lower overall out-of-pocket expenses. However, regardless of the details, a cash-strapped senior would have a difficult time meeting any of these financial demands for coverage.
It’s easy to see that the Medicare system is in trouble. Not only is the number of people using this service increasing, but the financial requirements are not affordable for many of the people who depend on this coverage. It’s important to learn the facts and figure out a solution that will ensure that the elderly are taken care of.
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