It is sign up time for Medicare. If you are of the age for Medicare as we are you will have an almost daily mailer from some insurance company glorifying the wonders of their Medicare advantage program. Turn on the TV and Medicare Advantage advertisements are all over. Be sure to note that these plans have the word “Medicare” in them. They are not Medicare, but they are trading on the good name that Medicare has built up over 55 years.
Video – 27 minutes with extremely important information, especially for seniors:
Be very, very careful before you sign up for Medicare Advantage. It is NOT MEDICARE!!! It is the same old managed care that has given health care in the US such a deserved bad name.
With Medicare Advantage you may be hooked into a network, thus greatly limiting your factor availability. It also may greatly limit where you can be treated. If you do not get pre-approval for surgeries you may well be denied. Even if you do get pre-approval you may get denied. The list of evils in the Advantage programs mirrors the the evils in health care insurance for all other classes.
Emily Gee, Maura Calsyn, and Nicole Rapfogel over at The Center for American Progress also notes that an executive order signed by the current president in early October lays out a path to the Republicans goal of privatizing Medicare as quickly as possible. Most of us probably missed this in the fog of crimes by the current president and the coverage of potential impeachment.
Here are a few of the points CAP makes. Please go and read the full article. It has very important information about the Republican plan to totally gut Medicare:
“Last week, President Donald Trump signed an executive order titled “Protecting and Improving Medicare for Our Nation’s Seniors.” The order is the latest example of how Trump says one thing while doing another. Rather than strengthening Medicare, Trump envisions turning large swaths of the 54-year-old program for the elderly over to the private sector while directing the federal government to dismantle safeguards on seniors’ health care access, shift costs onto beneficiaries, and limit seniors’ choice of providers.
Among other things, the executive order lays out a path to:
Shift the Medicare program toward private plans
Expand private contracting between beneficiaries and providers, putting seniors at risk for higher costs and surprise medical bills
Further restrict seniors’ choice of providers in Medicare Advantage
Expand Medicare Medical Savings Accounts as a tax shelter for the wealthy”
The above bullet points are topic headlines in the article. Here is my brief summary of what Republicans are shooting for:
- No longer having Medicare set rates on services. This could greatly raise costs which could both bankrupt Medicare and force seniors to to pay higher out of pocket amounts to cover bills.
- Using “market based approaches” to push Medicare Advantage. Potentially use an automatic system to put people into Medicare Advantage.
- Brings back to life the Republican plan to give seniors a yearly amount to shop for a private insurance plan.
- Weakening Medicare financial safeguards that could allow doctors to more easily opt out of Medicare and charge higher fees.
- Restrict seniors choice of doctors by forcing a network type arrangement on Medicare. Currently a senior can see any doctor who is signed up for Medicare.
- The perpetual Republican plan for Medical Savings Accounts would be folded into Medicare which would thus allow yet another tax shelter for wealthy subscribers
The CAP article has this forceful conclusion:
President Trump has laid out a plan to privatize Medicare and undermine the program, breaking his promise that “no one will lay a hand on your Medicare benefits.” Furthermore, he is trying to scare seniors away from supporting congressional proposals that would genuinely improve Medicare beneficiaries’ access to health care and financial security. Although seniors need better protection against out-of-pocket medical costs and better access to care providers, the changes Trump has proposed will only make things worse.
It should be painfully clear that Medicare as it exists now is clearly in the Republicans sights for destruction. It should also be painfully clear that this is now the time to create a healthcares system that will cover every American that is airtight. The Medicare For All (M4A) system as proposed by presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders would do just that:
Video 4 minutes: