AARP Praised The Senate Health Care Bill For Strengthening And Improving Medicare For Seniors, Moving Toward Closing The Donut Hole. In a December 2009 statement, AARP CEO A. Barry Rand said, “This morning the Senate brought us closer to meaningful health care reform than we have ever been before. Passage of the Senate health care reform bill clears the way for Congress to enact legislation in the coming weeks that will protect and strengthen Medicare, ensure millions more Americans can get affordable health coverage and sharply curtail discriminatory insurance company practices that keep those most in need out of the system. The bill passed by the Senate makes needed progress to prevent coverage denials due to health status and limit insurance companies from charging older Americans much more for coverage because of their age. It also begins to close the dangerous gap in Medicare drug coverage known as the doughnut hole, and Senate leaders have committed that a final bill will close the gap entirely by 2019, in keeping with the President’s pledge. In addition, the Senate bill adds important new Medicare benefits, like free preventive care, and encourages states to provide more home and community-based long-term care services and supports instead of costlier institutional care.” [AARP Press Release, 12/24/09]
Video: Medicare and the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program
Navigating Medicare's Open Enrollment Period
Medicare beneficiaries who are happy with their plans do not need to do anything, if they don’t want to change. But it is still a good idea to check options, Ms. Metcalf advises, to make sure a version of Medicare is the best one in terms of cost and coverage. If, for instance, you have the original version of Medicare and pay extra for prescription drug coverage (so-called Part D coverage), you may want to make sure important medications you need are still covered under your plan, to avoid having to pay more for them.
Study Finds Premium Support Plan Could Raise Medicare Premiums In Many Parts of Country
The study modeled the impact of a generic version of premium support, under which beneficiaries would receive a defined subsidy, or voucher, to buy health insurance in a competitive market instead of getting a guaranteed set of benefits as Medicare has traditionally provided. That payment would be tied to the second lowest cost plan offered in an area or traditional Medicare, whichever is lower. This kind of a change is a central part of the House Republican budget written by Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, now the GOP’s vice-presidential candidate, and it has also been embraced by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Even a few Democrats have flirted with such a plan as a way to leverage market efficiency to rein in the spiraling cost of Medicare.
Why Private Medicare Plans Don't Cost Less
Many contend that the government “overpays” for people enrolled in private plans, since traditional Medicare could have covered these patients for less money. But the reason it would have cost less is partly that the government has done a woeful job in figuring out how much to pay the private plans. The government compensates insurers based on the health of their enrollees at the start of the year. Plans with healthier patients receive less money than those with sicker ones to reflect the likelihood that healthier people will use less care. Healthier patients enroll in Medicare Advantage plans, so in, principle, plans should be reimbursed less by the government for enrolling these patients (the technical term for this process is “risk adjustment”). But for decades, the government has failed to determine who is healthy and who is sick with any precision, with the result that private plans receive larger payments to cover their patients’ costs than necessary. This botched payment system gives insurers an incentive to spend more time selecting the healthiest patients, and less time treating them more efficiently.
PoliGraph: DFL falsely links state lawmakers to Medicare
The flier states that Wiener “will be just another Republican vote against closing the Medicare prescription drug donut hole.” The DFL is referring to a kink in the Medicare Part D program, which covers drug benefits for seniors. Once Medicare beneficiaries reach a certain coverage threshold, they have to pay for their prescriptions until they reach the catastrophic coverage threshold.
Medicare open enrollment: Will Obamacare end Medicare Advantage?
Should you be worried that Medicare Advantage plans will economize by reducing your benefits? “The plans are required to provide all Medicare benefits, so there’s no way they can cut them,” Gold explains. That includes the free preventive services added to Medicare by the Affordable Care Act. And Advantage plans that include a drug benefit are closing the doughnut hole just the same as stand-alone Part D drug plans. The only area where plans can even consider cutting back are for optional services such as dental and vision benefits, but the plan finder on Medicare.gov still features plenty of plans that have these bonus features.
Mayor’s Health Line Expands to Offer Medicare Counseling
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AMA committee endorses Ryan
“The [AMA] policy identifies changes that must be made to strengthen the traditional Medicare program (i.e., restructuring beneficiary cost-sharing, including modifying Medigap rules, and changing the eligibility age to match Social Security),” the Council writes, “and expresses support for giving beneficiaries a choice of plans for which the federal government would contribute a standard amount (i.e., a ‘defined contribution’) toward the purchase of traditional fee-for-service Medicare or another health insurance plan approved by Medicare. The Council firmly believes that implementing a defined contribution system, with strong regulatory protections for patients, is a responsible and feasible approach to strengthening the Medicare program.”
Idaho insurance department helps with Medicare open enrollment this fall
Medicare members who received letters telling them their plans are being terminated have up to two months after the plan’s end date to enroll in a new one. But a choice must be made by Dec. 31, or the insurance coverage will revert to Original Medicare without prescription drug benefits.
Medicare Open Enrollment Underway
Medicare’s open enrollment period is now underway, giving current or newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries the opportunity to sign up for benefits or make changes to existing coverage. The open enrollment period began Oct. 15 and continues until Dec. 7. And, as senior citizens review or consider changing their Medicare benefit plans, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to help consumers as they navigate their Medicare options. A recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that nearly one in four American senior citizens were unaware of their annual opportunity to review or change Medicare coverage. More than a third of seniors surveyed said they review or compare coverage options only once every few years, rarely, or never. “Medicare beneficiaries have the option every year to review the coverage that’s right for them, depending on their health-care needs,” McDaniel said. “As with any insurance product, it’s always good practice to shop around for the best plan.” In addition to typical Medicare coverage, beneficiaries must join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan (Medicare Part D), unless they have prescription coverage under another recognized plan. Beneficiaries may choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, which operates like an HMO or PPO and may also include a prescription drug benefit. To select a plan, compare plans and coverage, or estimate costs, visit www.medicare.gov. Senior citizens are encouraged to make changes as soon as possible to allow coverage to begin uninterrupted on Jan. 1, 2013. Beneficiaries may be able to join other types of Medicare health plans as well. Click here for more information on how to select a plan. Medicare beneficiaries may also call a 24-hour hotline, (800) MEDICARE, with questions about coverage options. In Arkansas, the Senior Health Insurance Information Program, or SHIIP (click here) is available to assist Medicare beneficiaries. McDaniel noted that his Consumer Protection Division often sees an uptick in Medicare-related scams during the open enrollment period. He urged beneficiaries and their families to use caution when sharing sensitive personal or financial information. Scammers in the past have asked Medicare beneficiaries for information such as bank account numbers or Social Security numbers over the phone. Medicare rules prohibit these types of calls, though. No beneficiary should provide that type of information to someone who calls them, no matter whether the caller sounds official. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection website (click here) offers tips and resources to help consumers avoid Medicare-related scams and other types of scams and fraud. Consumers may also download a free, electronic copy of the Medicare Protection Toolkit on the website.
Deforming Medicare into a Competitive Bidding System (interlude)
Medicare is a fee-for-service insurance program in which the federal government serves as an insurance agent for the nation’s retired population (Oberlander 2003). Medicare Part A, financed through payroll tax contributions, covers hospital care for seniors. Medicare Part B is a voluntary program that pays for doctors’ visits and outpatient services; nearly 98 percent of those eligible take up this benefit, and currently monthly premiums on seniors cover 25 percent of costs, with general revenues paying the rest. Complex cost-sharing arrangements characterize the program, with annual deductibles and co-payments for hospital visits and doctors’ visits on top of the monthly premiums for Part B. There is no cap on out-of-pocket expenses for beneficiaries, and all together, beneficiaries are liable for about half the cost of acute care (Moon 2001). Also, Medicare was not designed to cover all needs, as most long-term care and prescription drugs were excluded from coverage.
A Better Understanding of the Medicare Supplement Plans
There is one thing which is quite noteworthy about the Medicare Insurance Plans and it is the fact that the changes that take place in these plans are often for betterment but sometimes they can also be the other way round. This is the reason why there is an acute necessity to stay informed about the Medicare insurance plans. A person who is already there with the Medicare insurance plans and a person who wants to enroll for the plans have to be very vigilant about the major changes that take place in the plans in order to remain on the best side of things. The main confusion that lies in choosing the Medicare plans is the fact that there is the availability of a number of plans, all having their own specific benefits and facilities to offer. All the plans are different from each other and they all have their rates as fixed upon by the government. The coverage and the expenditure on the plans differ at a very wide scale because of the great difference that lies in the rates of the different plans available in the market.
Opinion: Freedom key to Romney’s health care plans
Gov. Romney says that he would increase choice and competition, reduce wasteful spending by equalizing the tax treatment of individually-purchased and employer-provided health plans, and rescue Medicare by replacing the Obama Administration’s Medicare cuts with premium support. He would also cure Medicaid’s dysfunctional spending incentives by using block grants that would better serve the poor and sick by freeing states to design innovative programs that fit their populations.