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Medicare Plans in 2012

Posted on January 05 2012

Increased costs for health care treatment and a rising aging population has encouraged reform to Medicare plans in 2012 aimed at providing more effective and affordable care. Recent changes stand to lower care and supply costs, focus more on preventative care, and reduce extraneous testing. How will the Medicare plans in 2012 affect you?

Changes to reimbursement include program updates such as competitive durable medical equipment bidding, more targeted testing and treatment, and lower provider reimbursement. These Medicare changes will affect individuals as well as health care facilities by reducing unnecessary testing and charges with the intention of facilitating more effective care. The positives of the changes in Medicare plans in 2012 include enhanced sustainability, lower healthcare costs, and more focus on wellness. Negatives of these changes may include more restricted treatment and medical supply options, less comprehensive testing and treatment, and a shift of costs to the consumer.

Other changes to Medicare plans in 2012 include a shift to more preventative care. This strategy should reduce the high cost of emergency care as individuals will be treated with the purpose of staying well. The second phase of this is to reward acute care providers for discharging healthy patients, rather than treating and releasing for more follow up care. Presumably, these changes will positively affect Medicare recipients and support overall wellness. However, there is some concern that this process will overlook potentially dangerous conditions that are not the focus of an emergency visit but would normally be identified.

Overall, the changes to Medicare plans in 2012 appear to shift more costs to the consumer, restrict provider availability, and reduce overall reimbursement rates for a more sustainable program and to promote healthier living. What the effect of these changes may be is hard to ascertain, particularly as it relates to the aging population and the care providers. We can be sure, though, that population increases will significantly affect the program and the healthcare community at large.

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