Medicare Disadvantage

Every year during Medicare’s open enrollment period, which is from October 15 to December 7 this year, millions of Medicare beneficiaries are bombarded by private insurance companies looking for their business. The advertising makes it sound like these benevolent companies are looking to offer you a pot of gold for free. If it sounds too good to be true then it is too good to be true.

Here’s the story. In 1997 congress authorized the creation of Medicare C which has come to be known as Medicare Advantage. It was an effort by Republicans to privatize Medicare and make it less of a government-run program. It was also a gift for the private insurance industry which continues to haul in huge profits when people switch from traditional Medicare A to Medicare C.

Too Big To Fail?

Three years ago Vermont started an experiment to try to improve the quality of health care and to lower costs. A for-profit entity called One Care was created and, from the start, the organization’s complexity and lack of transparency has been an issue.

Those problems surfaced in a recent public hearing before the Green Mountain Care Board, the entity that has regulatory control over One Care. One Care is proposing a budget of $1.43 billion. Those funds come from insurers such as Medicare and Medicaid and private insurers and are then funneled directly to hospitals and providers.

Beware of Medicare Advantage

Anyone who is 65 years or older is most likely receiving notices about changing their Medicare plan by postal mail, e-mail or through a variety of other media. Medicare open enrollment period is from October 15 to December 7 and anyone enrolled in either traditional Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan can switch coverage. New coverage would begin on January 1, 2020.

It is important to understand the history of the Medicare Advantage program. In 2003 President Bush signed into law changes to the Medicare program that included the creation of Part D Medicare which turned out to be a financial bonus for American pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Free Workshop: Managing Health Care Expenses in Retirement

Join us at Brooks Memorial Library on Wednesday, October 17th at 7pm for the educational workshop, “Managing Health Care Expenses in Retirement: What Baby Boomers Need to Know About Medicare and Long-Term Care.”

A health care crisis is looming in this country, and it is essential for baby boomers to understand what they need to do to prepare for it financially.