Medicare Advantage Members Expected Out-Of-Pocket Spending For Inpatient And Skilled Nursing Facility Services
Author: Laura M. Keohane, Regina C. Grebla, Vincent Mor, Amal N. Trivedi
Inpatient and skilled nursing facility (SNF) cost sharing in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans may reduce unnecessary use of these services. However, large out-of-pocket expenses potentially limit access to care and encourage beneficiaries at high risk of needing inpatient and postacute care to avoid or leave MA plans. In 2011 new federal regulations restricted inpatient and skilled nursing facility cost sharing and mandated limits on out-of-pocket spending in MA plans. After these regulations, MA members in plans with low premiums averaged $1,758 in expected out-of-pocket spending for an episode of seven hospital days and twenty skilled nursing facility days. Among members with the same low-premium plan in 2010 and 2011, 36 percent of members belonged to plans that added an out-of-pocket spending limit in 2011. However, these members also had a $293 increase in average cost sharing for an inpatient and skilled nursing facility episode, possibly to offset plans’ expenses in financing out-of-pocket limits. Some MA beneficiaries may still have difficulty affording acute and postacute care despite greater regulation of cost sharing.