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As requested by Congress, this report includes explicit estimates only of costs to Medicare, not costs to beneficiaries, their families, or others. It also does not include cost-effectiveness analyses. That is, the extent of the benefits relative to the costs to Medicare—or to society generally—is not evaluated for the services examined.
The method for estimating Medicare costs follows the generic estimation practices of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). The objective was to provide Congress with estimates that were based on familiar procedures and could be compared readily with earlier and later CBO estimates. For each condition or service, the estimates are intended to suggest the order of magnitude of the costs to Medicare of extending coverage, but the estimates could be considerably higher or lower than what Medicare might actually spend were coverage policies changed. The estimates cover the five-year period 2000-2004.
In addition to the conclusions about specific coverage issues, the report examines some broader concerns about the processes for making coverage decisions and about the research and organizational infrastructure for these decisions. It also briefly examines the limits of coverage as a means of improving health services and outcomes and the limits of evidence as a means of resolving policy and ethical questions.