The actual financial condition of the Medicare hospital insurance trust fund is probably worse than the grim official projections based current federal law suggest, according to the American Academy of Actuaries.
The trustees themselves have said in earlier Medicare reports that the official numbers understate Medicare’s problems, and a team of Medicare trustees’ technical advisors met in January 2011 to talk about concerns about the actuarial assumptions, economic assumptions and methods used to create the official trust fund projections.
The trustees now are predicting in their official projections that the Medicare hospital insurance trust fund will run dry in 2024. That forecast is unchanged from what the trustees announced a year ago, the AAA says in its brief.
The Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, developed an alternative scenario at the request of the Medicare trustees.
One big difference between the official projections and the alternative scenario is that the official projections assume Medicare would impose significant Medicare provider reimbursement cuts every year for many years. The CMS Office of the Actuary assumes the reimbursement cuts would slow beginning in 2020.
The official projections indicate that the hospital insurance fund’s 75-year deficit is equal to about 1.35% of projected taxable payroll, the AAA says.