Medicare Releases Snapshot of COVID-19 Impact

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a preliminary snapshot showing the impact of COVID-19 on the Medicare program. The data covered a period from January 1, 2020 through March 20, 2021. As of early 2021, about 63.1 million Americans were enrolled in Medicare: 57% in traditional Medicare, and 43% in Medicare Advantage plans. For the period covered by the snapshot, there were 4,103,791 COVID-19 cases among beneficiaries, for a rate of 6,526 per 100,000. Medicare beneficiaries had 1,141,592 hospitalizations for COVID-19, for a rate of 1,825 per 100,000. While 54% of hospital stays lasted from one day to a week, 15% lasted 8-10 days and 4% lasted more than 31 days. Overall, Medicare paid $16.6 billion for COVID-19 hospitalizations for Medicare patients in the traditional (fee for service) Medicare program, with an average payment of $24,033. This preliminary data will likely be adjusted upward as later claims are received.

Signing up for Medicare: what I found out

After working for 30+ years in the health care industry, I retired last October. I’ve had employer-provided health insurance through my entire working life. Well, no problem, I figured. I was over 65, I knew a lot about how Medicare works, so there shouldn’t be any surprises, right? Well, not quite. While I knew the basics about how Medicare is structured, I wasn’t prepared for the sticker shock I experienced signing up for coverage.

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