Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News


Medicare’s Dire Financial State, Death Doulas Council

BY ROBERT HOLLY: Catch up on the latest in home health and home care by checking out our must-read news from across the web. Keep reading to see our top HHCN stories rom the last week.

Medicare’s financial problems have reportedly gotten worse, and the program is now expected to be broke in eight years, or three years earlier than previously forecast. The news of Medicare’s dire financial standing is particularly troubling for Tennessee residents, about 20% of whom are dependent on Medicare.

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) has jumped on the death doulas bandwagon, announcing the formation of a special council to provide its members, affiliated organizations and the public with information about their role. The long-term goal of the new council is to further incorporate end-of-life doulas into care delivery, either as agency staff, specifically trained volunteers or as independent contractors, according to NHPCO. (read more)

How worried should you be about Medicare and Social Security lasting?

BY ASSOCIATED PRESS: An unexpected weakening in the finances of Social Security and Medicare has raised concern about the bedrock programs for the middle class. The problems may only keep getting worse in a time of political tension and deep partisan divisions.

Here are some questions and answers on an issue that ultimately will affect every American family and isn’t going away:

What’s new?

The government’s annual Trustees Reports on the programs shows the financial condition of both worsening significantly since last year. The projected insolvency for Social Security stayed unchanged — in 2034 — but Medicare’s moved three years closer, to 2026. (read more)

eHealth Review of More Than One Million Consumer Calls Reveals Most Seniors on Medicare With Fixed Incomes Don’t Know About Savings Programs

BY EHEALTH: More than four in ten people over the age of 65 rely on a monthly Social Security check for 90 percent or more of their income. Not surprisingly, large numbers seek help each year to manage rising health care costs. Based on more than one million customer service calls fielded in 2017, eHealth, Inc. (NASDAQ: EHTH) ( and has identified the three money-saving opportunities most commonly overlooked by lower-income Medicare beneficiaries.

  1. Medicare Savings Programs: Most people who call eHealth looking for help to lower their costs don’t know about Medicare Savings Programs that can help them pay for Part A and Part B premiums and out-of-pocket medical costs associated with deductibles and co-pays. In addition, growing numbers of seniors who qualify for Medicaid are unaware of their eligibility for special Medicare Advantage plans that offer broader provider networks and richer medical benefits than available under Medicaid alone. In 2017, 60 percent of calls fielded by eHealth’s Medicare customer service line involved helping beneficiaries connect to Medicare Savings Programs, the Extra Help program and dual-eligible special needs Medicare Advantage plans. (read more)

OPINION: Readers Write: Congress must act to save Medicare, Social Security

BY STEVEN BLANK: It has just come to my attention that Social Security and Medicare is in the red.

Social Security can still make full payments until 2034 and Medicare’s reserve are to run out by 2026. This I find quite troubling.

I’m 69 years old and my wife is 65 and is also collection Social Security benefits.

I am working part-time now for Northeast Plumbing in Mineola for 38 years and 35 years full time to supplement what I get from Social Security. It would be a hardship and a struggle to have benefits reduced.

In the last three years I have had four operations due to an aggressive cancer and have depended on Medicare benefits as well as my wife who had a recent operation. (read more)

11% of Medicare Advantage Members Informed on Lowering Health Costs, Versus 47% Wanting the Information

BY HEALTHMINE: A report from a survey of 500 Medicare plan consumers was released today that provides insight into member attitudes toward health plan communication. Fielded during 2017, The HealthMine Medicare Report analyzes enrolled Medicare Advantage members, 70% of whom have one or more chronic conditions.

Connecting at-risk members with the right information quickly is critical to plan success and member satisfaction. “Gaps in communication” often signal the beginning of gaps in care.  The most striking perceived disconnects identified via the survey were related to health care cost reduction information, health plan follow-up and digital health tool integration.

Just sixteen percent (16%) of Medicare plan members surveyed said they had a follow-up on quality of care after a provider visit. (read more)

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