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Beneficiary Income and Out-of-Pocket Costs

Over the past 8 years, the annual report of the Medicare Board of Trustees to Congress has included a comparison of growth trends for (i) beneficiary income, and (ii) beneficiary "out-of-pocket" costs for premiums and cost-sharing liabilities under the Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) component of Medicare. This comparison provides an important and informative illustration of the adverse consequences for Medicare beneficiaries if SMI costs continue to increase at a significantly faster rate than beneficiaries' incomes for a sustained period. This memorandum provides additional information on the purpose and limitations of the comparison.