An article in the Los Angeles Times looks at the question of making changes to Medicare that would require seniors to pay more of their medical costs. The article, “Raising Medicare Costs May Be Gaining Traction”, quotes various experts who study Medicare, and they answered my questions from yesterday’s blog post.
Yesterday I posed the following questions:
What are the chances a senior will put off care because he has to pay 100% of the cost until he meets his deductible?
Is it a good idea for seniors to put off care because they can’t afford it – or are too cheap to pay co-pays and deductibles?
Is this good public health policy, or will it lead to sicker seniors and bigger medical bills for seniors and Medicare?
Experts who were interviewed for the LA Times article provided the following comments:
[Tricia Neuman, director of the Medicare Policy Project at the Kaiser Family Foundation] and others also warn that increasing co-pays and deductibles may discourage seniors from seeking medical care they need.
Brown University researchers, for example, found that seniors went to the doctor less frequently after their Medicare-managed plans raised co-pays for outpatient visits. At the same time, they ended up spending more time in the hospital.
Because hospital care is so much more expensive, that probably ended up costing Medicare more than the program saved by paying for fewer doctor visits, while also leaving seniors sicker, said Dr. Amal Trivedi, the lead author of the study.