04 October 2013

Does the Public Need Medicare Education?

According to this Medpage Today article, YES. This Joslin blog also raises issues that people with Medicare and diabetes may not be aware are available. While I don't utilize them personally, some people may have the need of these services. Others that are in need of these services may not be able to receive them because of the shortage of certified diabetes educators in many areas of the US, and registered nutritionists are also in short supply. The CDEs are needed for the education and many doctors do not have them available or will not utilize them.

The medical nutrition therapy is a complementary benefit. You must be counseled by a registered dietitian or nutrition professional that is a Medicare provider. In addition, your physician must write a referral for you to receive this service. You should receive an individualized nutrition care plan and be monitored for changes in your diet and laboratory values.

Other preventive services are also funded by Medicare and should be utilized. My blog here covers this and a link to the list of preventive services.

The Medpage Today article takes off in another direction and has some comments that are not too complementary about Medicare. I do agree with the article that there is a need for public education when it comes to understanding what Medicare does and does not pay for and the why. We as Medicare beneficiaries will need to become more familiar with some of the provisions and reasons Medicare is tightening the purse strings.

Reform will need to happen and this may become painful in the pocket of many beneficiaries. I can only hope that the supplemental policies can cover the holes and not become too exorbitant in doing so. The following indicates current public opinion and are not completely on target.

Public opinion polls show that poor government management (30%), fraud and abuse (24%), and excessive charges by hospitals (23%) were top reasons voters cited for Medicare's rising costs. The cost of new drugs and treatments was the lowest-ranked reason, with 6% of respondents citing it.

Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund will be depleted by 2026 if current spending rates continue, the program's trustees said earlier this year. I am not sure where the author obtained the 2026, as I remember, probably incorrectly, the year of 2018 for Medicare to exhaust its funds under ACA.

“Increasing the public's understanding about how Medicare works, outside of just how to navigate the program as a patient, could raise the level public policy debate in the country, the authors said.” I think with the baby boom generation now increasing in the Medicare arena, that it is time for a public education campaign to begin.

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