Publications: Medicare

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Medicare Part D: Simplifying the Program and Improving the Value of Information for Beneficiaries

May 30, 2008 - This issue brief considers options for simplifying Part D in several areas: standardizing the benefit descriptions and procedures used by plans and the Medicare program; further standardization of the plan's benefit parameters, particularly the rules for cost-sharing; and changes to the rules governing plan formularies.

Issue Brief

Medicare Part D: State and Local Efforts to Assist Vulnerable Beneficiaries

May 1, 2008 - Aspects of Medicare Part D have been problematic or confusing for vulnerable beneficiaries. This study highlights creative efforts across the country have helped individuals obtain and use the Part D benefit.

Issue Brief

Medicare Part D: How Do Vulnerable Beneficiaries Fare?

May 1, 2008 - For some Medicare beneficiaries, the prescription drug benefit--Medicare Part D--can be confusing and lead to delays in getting drugs or in adverse health outcomes. New research suggests certain policy and procedural changes could enhance program performance.

Issue Brief

Medicare Advantage: Options for Standardizing Benefits and Information to Improve Consumer Choice

April 14, 2008 - The Medicare Advantage program offers seniors a choice of private health plans, but many consumers have trouble understanding how these plans differ. This Commonwealth Fund issue brief explains that the problem lies in the high degree of variability and complexity in Medicare Advantage plans--and the lack of good information for making educated choices.

Issue Brief

Medicare Out-of-Pocket Costs: Can Private Savings Incentives Solve the Problem?

March 24, 2008 - A new report examines whether incentives for private savings could relieve the burden of post-retirement health care costs, especially for low-income individuals.

Fund Report

Coordinating Care for Dual Eligibles: Options for Linking State Medicaid Programs with Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans

February 25, 2008 - Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs) for dual eligibles--individuals who qualify both for Medicare and Medicaid benefits--have the potential to coordinate Medicare benefits with state-administered Medicaid benefits.

Issue Brief

Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans for Dual Eligibles: A Primer

February 25, 2008 - Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs) could improve the coordination of Medicare and Medicaid benefits for the roughly 7 million individuals who are eligible for both programs. This issue brief provides a snapshot of SNP participation, discusses the opportunities and challenges presented by SNPs, and more.

Issue Brief

How Disease Burden Influences Medication Patterns for Medicare Beneficiaries: Implications for Policy

February 21, 2008 - This Commonwealth Fund issue brief provides information that can be used to develop benchmarks for evaluating the quality of pharmaceutical care under the Medicare Part D prescription drug benefit.

Issue Brief

The Medicare Physician Group Practice Demonstration: Lessons Learned on Improving Quality and Efficiency in Health Care

February 7, 2008 - This Commonwealth Fund report reviews what the participating practices have learned so far in their efforts to improve quality and efficiency, how they might go about expanding and refining the interventions they have designed, and what the broader implications are for the Medicare program.

Fund Report

Health of Previously Uninsured Adults After Acquiring Medicare Coverage

December 26, 2007 - A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds dramatic improvement in health trends when previously uninsured older individuals--particularly those with cardiovascular disease or diabetes--gain health care coverage through Medicare.

In the Literature

Bending the Curve: Options for Achieving Savings and Improving Value in U.S. Health Spending

December 18, 2007 - This analysis, prepared for The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, finds that guaranteeing health insurance for all, when combined with policy options aimed at improving health system performance, could result in $1.5 trillion in reduced spending over the next decade.

Fund Report

Toward a Rational, Value-Based Drug Benefit for Medicare

December 3, 2007 - In a Health Affairs article supported by The Commonwealth Fund, two health policy experts outline steps for restructuring the Medicare Part D benefit and putting the program onto a more value-driven path.

In the Literature

Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Progress Report: Chartpack

August 31, 2007 - Findings from the Kaiser/Commonwealth/Tufts-New England Medical Center 2006 National Survey of Seniors and Prescription Drugs.


Rewarding Excellence and Efficiency in Medicare Payments

August 27, 2007 - To prove itself a leader in achieving high performance, Medicare must align financial incentives with the dual goals of improving health care quality and efficiency. This Milbank Quarterly article by the Fund's Karen Davis and Stuart Guterman describes the adverse incentives inherent in the current Medicare system and lays the groundwork for fundamental payment reform.

In the Literature

Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Progress Report: Findings From a 2006 National Survey of Seniors

August 21, 2007 - In the first in-depth look at seniors' experiences with Medicare's prescription drug benefit, a new survey finds that the majority of seniors who lacked drug coverage in 2005--before the establishment of the benefit--obtained it in 2006. Even with Part D coverage, however, many seniors reported relatively high out-of-pocket spending in 2006.

In the Literature