Hospitals Worry As They Face Growing Chasm In Medicare Reimbursements
For hospitals in non-urban areas and those with large numbers of Medicare patients, the gap between their costs and the reduced federal payments is becoming a serious concern. Also, time is growing short for Medicare beneficiaries to sign up for 2018 coverage.
Slumping Medicare Margins Put Hospitals On Precarious Cliff
David Ramsey is in a dark place. Despite running West Virginia's largest hospital, a sense of dread has grown about the facility's future. "There is no light at the end of the tunnel other than another train," said Ramsey, CEO of Charleston Area Medical Center. "There no reason to feel optimistic." Ramsey, and many of his C-suite peers, are grappling with that fact that Medicare margins are in a free fall. In 2015, the aggregate margin hit a negative 7.1% across hospitals, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission; margins are expected sink to a negative 10% this year. While Medicare has never totally covered the cost of care, hospital executives say the chasm between the two has widened in recent years. (Dickson, 11/25)
Time Is Running Out To Lock In Your Medicare Coverage
Medicare recipients who haven't yet re-evaluated their coverage have about two weeks left to make changes. The program's open enrollment period, which started Oct. 15, ends on Dec. 7. This seven-week window is generally the only time you can make changes to your Advantage Plan (Medicare Part C) or prescription drug coverage (Part D). And with premiums for Part B (outpatient care) jumping by 23 percent for many Medicare beneficiaries, trying to contain costs in other areas is crucial. (O'Brien, 11/24)