Changes to Medicare are confusing and complicated. Most changes are driven by political issues and lobbyists. The average person may feel like his needs or wants get left behind in the larger picture, although changes are often made with a goal of congressmen getting re-elected. The changes made to Medicare last year faced two deeper issues. Medicare, as it stands, is unsustainable. Ballooning budget deficits. Anyone who follows the news knows why the federal government decided to make changes to its reimbursement program. Medicare is in serious trouble.
The United States debt reached $14 trillion dollars for the first time in history. Although Medicare is not to blame for all of the deficit, the largest portion of the Federal budget gets spent on the entitlement program. The Medicare change to drug reimbursement policy are designed to keep the program afloat for longer periods of time. It hits its largest challenge in 2011 when the first of the Baby Boomers reaches Retirement age.
What the Medicare change means to a beneficiary depends on his overall level of income. People with higher incomes may see an increase in the premiums they pay at the pharmacy. The donut hole provision saw one change that reduced the amount of money a person in the donut hole has to pay. The Medicare change to prescription drug was minor, but the program may see larger changes in upcoming years as it finds ways to accommodate millions of Baby Boomers who start to qualify. Whether or not the program can survive the mass retirement wave about to occur remains to be seen. The Social Security program faces similar problems. It is necessary to get these to program under control to reduce the growth and eventually the size of the national debt.