As Medicare and Medicaid Turn 50, Use of Private Health Plans Surges

Source: Robert Pear, New York Times, JULY 29, 2015

…. More than 30 percent of the 55 million Medicare beneficiaries and well over half of the 66 million Medicaid beneficiaries are now in private health plans run by insurance companies like the UnitedHealth Group, Humana, Anthem and Centene. Enrollment has soared as the government, in an effort to control costs and improve care, pays private insurers to provide and coordinate medical services for more and more beneficiaries. Although the programs remain highly popular with patients, skeptics question whether the use of private plans will save the government money in the long run and worry that the plans may skimp on care. But both programs served as foundations for the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which, like the newer versions of Medicare and Medicaid, uses a combination of government money and private insurance to provide coverage.