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  Medicare’s cost surprise: It’s going down
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Last EditedRP  Sep 12, 2018 06:32am
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AuthorDan Diamond
News DateWednesday, September 12, 2018 10:35:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionOne of the best-kept secrets in American health care might be that Medicare spending — in important ways — is going down.

If that surprises you, it’s probably because you’ve read about Medicare’s budget-busting growth. And at the top line, that‘s true enough: Medicare’s overall costs have soared, increasing about 50 percent during the Obama administration alone. Baby boomers are signing up for Medicare at the rate of 10,000 people per day, and they‘re expected to live longer, sicker lives than any previous generation. Medicare’s actuaries estimate that if current trends hold, the increasing number of beneficiaries will push the system into insolvency in 2026.

But there’s a sliver of hope buried in federal data: During the Obama era, Medicare’s per-person spending barely budged, inching up only about 1 percent per year. That’s less than the rate of inflation, meaning that per-person Medicare costs, when adjusted for inflation, have been going down.

One question Buntin and her colleagues are focused on solving: How did the federal program achieve lower per-person spending for its mix of retired and disabled patients, even as private insurers continued to spend more and more on their younger and healthier customers?
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