The Hill: Unified Medicare benefit would save billions, study says

By Elise Viebeck – 05/06/13 05:00 PM ET
Combining Medicare coverage under a unified benefit could save $180 billion over 10 years while lowering out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries, according to a new study.

Researchers with the Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit research foundation, proposed a simplified Medicare program in which beneficiaries receive hospital, physician, drug and supplemental coverage in a single package. 

“Medicare Essential” would lower costs and create rewards for beneficiaries who choose efficient and high-quality medical providers, researchers said. 

“This plan builds on traditional Medicare, which beneficiaries are more satisfied with than private coverage,” said Karen Davis with The Bloomberg School of Public Health, an author of the study. 

“But Medicare is overly complex, and it fails to protect beneficiaries against high costs unless they buy supplemental coverage. Medicare Essential would simplify and modernize Medicare for beneficiaries and help keep premiums and out-of-pocket costs reasonable.” 

Proposals to combine Medicare coverage under a more comprehensive benefit have received traction on Capitol Hill as part of talks to reduce the deficit. 

President Obama said he would consider unifying Parts A and B under one deductible as part of a “balanced” plan to cut government spending while raising some taxes.

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