Arm yourself with these eight facts on health care, Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act:


1.    We have a health care cost problem, not a Medicare or Medicaid problem. Health care costs overall, including through employment-based plans, individual coverage, Medicare and Medicaid, have been growing faster than the whole economy—2.4% greater on average since 1970. Between 2000 and 2010, workers’ contributions to premiums for health insurance at work jumped 147%, compared to just a 36% increase in workers’ earnings. See "Medicare, Medicaid and the Deficit Debate," a report from the Urban Institute.


2.    Most health care costs come from a small group of people with costly conditions. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, “half of health care spending is used to treat just 5% of the population.” Within traditional Medicare, the costliest 25% of beneficiaries account for 81% of spending. See "Health Care Costs: A Primer," from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, and "A Data Book: Health Care Spending and the Medicare Program (June 2012") from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, which reports to Congress.


3.    Medicare is not going “bankrupt.” According to the Medicare Board of Trustees, the Medicare Hospital Insurance fund will pay 100% of hospital care costs until 2024 and continue to pay 87% of those costs after 2024. See "A Summary of the 2012 Annual Reports," from the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees. The other parts of Medicare coverage—doctor and outpatient care and prescription drugs—are funded on an ongoing basis by beneficiary premiums and general revenues, so these parts of Medicare can’t be insolvent, as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reports.


4.    Medicaid is a critical part of our health care system. Medicaid covers over 60 million people. This includes 6 million seniors and more than 9 million people with disabilities, who draw two-thirds of the benefit payouts, helping make Medicaid today’s largest source of nursing home and community-based long-term care coverage. See the Medicaid Program at a Glance.


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