Reforming Medicare's Benefit Package: Impact on Beneficiary Expenditures

The Commonwealth Fund
by Stephanie Maxwell, Marilyn Moon, and Matthew Storeygard
The Urban Institute
May 2001

"Expanding Medicare's benefit package would enhance equity of coverage among beneficiaries, who currently obtain coverage through a patchwork of sources at varying costs. Coordinating coverage under a single source would allow for greater overall efficiency in furnishing health insurance coverage to Medicare beneficiaries and society as a whole. Moreover, administrative costs for public insurance programs are lower than those for private insurance plans: a public program does not need to maintain reserves to protect against adverse risk, nor does it need to pay marketing or sales commissions."

"Expanded Medicare coverage would clearly result in decreased out-of-pocket costs for many beneficiaries, particularly those with the highest expenses."

The full report is available at:

Comment: This study demonstrates that improving Medicare benefits can eliminate the need for expensive Medigap coverage, and result in the reduction of out-of-pocket spending. This is the type of Medicare reform that we should be supporting, rather than the severely flawed Breaux-Frist premium support proposal.