Medicare made $83.4 billion very real dollars in 2022. The 17% discounts below the average cost of fee-for-service Medicare, that happen in every county for Medicare Advantage, have been very real and extremely successful in paying for Medicare coverage — in a way that now makes the program a profit center for the US Government.
You can see the actual financial report page from the 2023 Medicare trustee report below. It shows that the Medicare trust fund grew in 2022 for the first time in decades. More than half of the Medicare members are now enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. Those members cost significantly less than their equivalent fee-for-service Medicare patients.
These are the actual numbers from the trustee report.
The Medicare trustee report says that the total Medicare program grows per member by 6.7% every year. They project in that report that they expect that rate of increase to be consistent over the next decade. The enrollees in the Medicare Part A and Part B programs have expenses that increase slightly above that number every year. That’s been true for a couple of decades.
Medicare loses money on every Part A and Part B member when expenses for those programs are higher than the 6.7% average.
Medicare Advantage costs for Medicare Part C are increasing at a lower rate than that number. That means that Medicare makes money and creates a surplus with the Medicare Advantage patients.
Health reform (ObamaCare) will save taxpayers $200 billion in the Medicare program through 2016.
About 90% of these savings will be produced by lowering “excessive payments” to Medicare Advantage plans, lower payments to doctors, hospitals and other providers to reflect their “improved productivity,” and through efficiencies gained by what is learned from “demonstration projects.”
The demonstration projects include pay for performance, bundling, Accountable Care Organizations, and other frequently discussed ideas.
But whereas the Trustees report is expected to be a serious document, reflecting accepted accounting principles, the administration’s document was clearly a piece of political propaganda — one that stretched the truth so much that the word “spin” would be a charitable description. For example, the administration’s document failed to mention that:
The Congressional Budget Office has studied the demonstration projects on three separate occasions (here, here and here) and each time has concluded that they are producing no serious savings and are unlikely to do so in the future.
Medicare’s Actuary has determined that reductions in payments to Medicare Advantage plans will not only result in lower benefits for the one in four seniors who are in these plans, but that about 7 ½ million enrollees will actually lose their coverage and have to seek more expensive Medigap insurance elsewhere.