Older adults are at particularly high risk for serious illness with the coronavirus, and almost everyone age 65 and older is covered by Medicare. Healthcare policy experts are closely watching how unanticipated increases in Medicare spending due to COVID-19 would have “spill-over effects for Medicare beneficiaries. TSCL is especially concerned those effects may be felt in “high hyper” premium increases, as well as significantly higher deductibles and out - of - pocket costs in future years.
The coronavirus is putting pressure on Medicare, not only for the enormous number of Medicare - covered hospitalizations for COVID-19, but also the high cost of those patients who require ventilator support, and a 20% increase in Medicare payment rates for coronavirus patients that Congress passed in recent coronavirus legislation. According to information from the Peterson Kaiser Health System Tracker, many hospitalizations for COVID-19 treatment will cost around $20,000, but severe cases could cost several times more than that.
Also unknown is the degree to which Medicare beneficiaries have forgone or delayed getting needed care as facilities postponed elective services to relieve strain on medical systems. Elective care refers to care that is not urgent, even if the procedure is lifesaving or improves quality of life. Experts believe the postponed care may put some downward pressure on costs for 2020 but could increase costs for 2021. Some types of delayed care could worsen health conditions and cause higher spending later.
The cost of treatment for COVID-19 is high, and federal Medicare spending is expected to increase more than it otherwise would. In order to educate lawmakers in Congress and the general public, TSCL is interested in learning how older Americans are impacted by this disease. Send your comments and, if you haven’t already done so please take TSCL’s Survey of Senior Costs (https://seniorsleague.org/2020-senior-cost-survey).
Source: “How Much Could Medicare Beneficiaries Pay For a Hospital Stay Related to COVID-19?” Neuman, Damico, Cubanski, Kaiser Health News, March 24, 2020.