Medicare will spend $598.4 billion on health care services for seniors and the disabled in 2013 and about $635 billion in 2014.  Medicare expenditures will top $1 trillion in 2021, according to CMS actuarial projections.

Medicare spending patterns and payment policies are highly complex and change constantly. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes further, very significant changes to how Medicare pays hospitals, physicians, post-acute providers, and Medicare Advantage health plans.  In fact, the ACA is funded in part through over $700 billion worth of Medicare cuts.  These cuts, coupled with the underlying changes to payment methods, are already game-changers for health care providers, health plans, and drug manufacturers.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) does an excellent job helping Congress and the public understand Medicare payment and spending, with advice to Congress on how to improve the efficiency and quality of the massive, critically important Medicare program.

MedPAC’s annual Medicare Data Book provides a wealth of interesting charts and tables, with statistical breakdowns on Medicare spending, Medicare beneficiaries and enrollment, Medicare fee-for-service providers (payments, profit margins), Medicare Advantage health plans, Medicare Part D prescription drug plans, and benefits trends.

Here is a quick glimpse at some stats from the 2013 edition of the MedPAC Data Book:

  • From 2002 to 2012, fee-for-service Medicare spending per capita rose significantly for nearly every service type.
  • Hospital inpatient and physician services are the two most expensive categories, costing $3,805 and $2,122 per capita in 2012, respectively.
  • Medicare made up 23 percent of national personal health spending in 2011, with private health plans paying the greatest share, at 34 percent.
  • But Medicare paid 44 percent of national home health care spending in 2011, with Medicaid paying 37 percent and private health insurance or consumers paying the rest.
  • The Boards of Trustees for Medicare expect spending to reach 3.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2020.
  • Medicare Part A and Part B are expected to make up roughly 1.5 percent of GDP each and Part D to account for about 1 percent of GDP by 2020.
  • Medicare enrollment is expected to reach 63.9 million by 2020, compared to 47.4 million in 2010.
  • Over the long term, Medicare and private health plans have spent roughly the same per enrollee, though the number differs significantly from year to year.
  • Almost a third of the Medicare population lives alone, almost one quarter of them lives in rural areas, and one quarter has no high school diploma.

MedPAC’s Data Book also has more detailed information on spending for services related to physicians, hospitals, post-acute care providers (skilled nursing facilities, home health care), Medicare Advantage, and Medicare drug benefits.  For hospitals and post-acute providers, MedPAC also reports profit margins.

Read the full data book here.