health insurance, health policy, Medicare



  1. Kulesher, Robert R. PhD


It is useful for health care managers to understand Medicare's history and the impact on providers of ever-changing Medicare payment methods. Initially, Medicare payments resembled those of commercial insurance plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans. When Congress became concerned about the increasing costs of Medicare, new payment methods were created to limit payments to providers. The prospective payment system, imposed on hospitals in 1987 and later on nursing homes, home health agencies, and other services, has been adapted by commercial plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield associations, and state Medicaid programs. Changes in payer reimbursements require health care managers to adjust the department's charge master and exert more control of departmental costs. The story of Medicare's beginnings and development can provide some insight into the possibility of national health insurance, given the historic and current politics that limit publicly financed social programs. This article discusses the development of Medicare and its administration and serves as an introduction to the complex realities of health care reimbursement policy.