Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How ObamaCare is Destroying Medicare Advantage Plans

While the  Obama administration is trying to scare people about the automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to hit this Friday, they don't want to talk about its own devastating cuts in Medicare. On Friday, February 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced $716 billion in cuts over the next ten years. Instead of being put this money towards the debt, most of the money will go toward a new entitlement -- ObamaCare's vast expansion of coverage for the uninsured. 

Savings to Come Out of Medicare Advantage Plans
At least half of the savings will come out of Medicare Advantage, under which a full 28 percent of seniors buy privately managed health insurance that often includes added benefits such as vision and dental care or chronic-illness management. In exchange, patients agree to stay within a medical network, which helps insurance companies manage their costs. The program is most popular with Hispanics and African-Americans.  

A study by CMS found that 38 percent of Hispanics and 31 percent of African Americans on Medicare were enrolled in Medicare Advantage, compared with 27 percent of whites. Despite the fact that the program reports high levels of consumer satisfaction,the Obama administration is determined to cut it, even if it means driving millions of seniors back into traditional, one-size-fits-all Medicare. 

Restriction of Senior's Choices
They want to restrict seniors' choices by curtailing private plans competing in Medicare. To add cynicism to injury, the Obama administration postponed the Medicare Advantage cuts until after the 2012 election, using a slush fund to tide the program over and conceal the true costs of Obamacare to seniors. The cuts are so much larger than expected that health care stocks tanked across the board after they were announced. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the payment cuts will result in an enrollment drop of 3 million for Medicare Advantage which would turn almost every plan in the industry unprofitable. 

Seniors must pressure their Representatives and Senators to revise or reverse the cuts before they are made final in April. Some adjustments are possible, but the law will continue to mandate a squeeze on Medicare Advantage. President Obama promised Americans in 2009 that "if you like your health-care plan, you can keep your health-care plan." The reality is that not only are millions of Americans likely to lose health-care coverage from their employers, but millions more will lose the Medicare Advantage plans they've grown used to.  

Seniors Will be Forced Back Into Traditional Medicare
Unless it is changed, ObamaCare will relentlessly restrict the choices seniors have by forcing them into traditional Medicare with all of its attendant contradictions, restrictions, and waste. Medicare Advantage has its problems, but they could be surgically addressed. Instead, the bureaucrats running ObamaCare are set on slowly starving the program. By focusing solely on the politics of the sequester, the media are ignoring the Obama administration's bigger, more brazen threat to vulnerable American seniors.

Email your Medicare questions to me at Ask Will ,

Leave your comments below.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Medicare Part B Payment - Know the Truth

Know the Truth about your Medicare Part B Payment. You may be aware that Medicare is a medical insurance program for people who are 65 or older and for people who are disabled at any age. Some people are covered only by one type of Medicare; others opt to pay extra for more coverage. However, understanding Medicare can save you money.

If you're eligible for and want to be covered by Medicare Part B medical insurance, now is the time to sign up. The General Enrollment period for Medicare Part B runs from Jan. 1 through March 31. Before you make a decision about General Enrollment, here is some useful information.

There are four parts to Medicare: Parts A, B, C and D:

Part A helps pay for inpatient hospital care, skilled nursing care, hospice care and other services. 

Part B helps pay for doctors' fees, outpatient hospital visits and other medical services and supplies not covered by Part A. 

Part C allows you to choose to receive all of your health care services through a managed health care organization.These plans, known as Medicare Advantage Plans, may help lower your costs of receiving medical services, or you may get extra benefits which may or may not have an additional monthly fee. You must have both Parts A and B to enroll in Part C. 

And Part D is the Medicare Prescription Drug Program.

There is a monthly premium for Medicare Part B. For 2013, the standard premium is $104.90. Some high-income individuals pay more than the standard premium. Your Part B premium also can be higher if you do not enroll during your Initial Enrollment Period or when you first become eligible.

There are exceptions to this rule. As an example, you can delay your Medicare Part B enrollment without having to pay higher premiums if you are covered under a group health plan based on your own current employment or the current employment of any family member. If this situation applies to you, you have a "Special Enrollment Period" in which to sign up for Medicare Part B, without paying the premium surcharge for late enrollment. 

This rule allows you to enroll in Medicare Part B at any time while you are covered under a group health plan based on your own current employment or the current employment of any family member or enroll in Medicare Part B during the eight month period that begins following the last month your group health coverage ends, or following the month employment ends, whichever comes first.

If you receive disability benefits and have coverage from a working family member, the same rules apply.  If you are already receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits you will be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B automatically. However, because you must pay a premium for Part B coverage, you have the option of turning it down.

If you don't enroll in Medicare Part B when you first become eligible to apply and you don't fall under the special enrollment period, you'll have to wait until the general enrollment period, which is Jan. 1 through March 31 of each year. At that time, you may have to pay a higher Medicare Part B premium.

Email your Medicare questions to me at Ask Will,