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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Medicare Voucher - Blog Reader Compares Medicare D Confusing Enrollment as Harbinger

Blog reader Jacques from St. Louis Missouri responds to the "Medicare as Metaphor" blog:

"If the Medicare Voucher program proposed is anything like the Medicare Plan D for drugs, it will be a disaster."

The reason Jacques says this is because the Plan D started at $6/month for every company and the plans were identical. Now, the plans cost from $30-60/month and have many options, like no deductible, no co-pays, no doughnut hole, ... To get the cheapest plan, he needs to go to the Medicare website every November and see which is the cheapest for him and his wife, given their drug mix.

Every year, a new company comes up with a plan cheaper that all the others, sometimes by a factor of two to three. Each year there's another "lowest" plan; he never knows which will be the best plan from one year to the next. He changed plans three times in four years. And sometimes, the best one for Jacques is not the best one for his wife. The drug companies hope beneficiaries won't do their homework and will stick with the same plan for another year, without realizing that the price changed. It's a mess, but, he says, still manageable and he only needs to contact one pharmacy with his new plan information.

"If I had to go through this exercise every year for my Medicare and supplemental plan, I would go crazy, picking the cheapest one every year, and come January, I have to contact all our doctors, clinics, hospitals, with our new plan information, not to mention the problems resulting with illnesses that overlap multiple plans. This would be a nightmare."

In fact, Jacques, who has a PhD in astrophysics, is absolutely correct.
A Medicare Voucher program will cause enormous confusion among aging beneficiaries. He is absolutely correct about overlapping plans. Beneficiaries will find themselves paying double premiums on overlapping plans as one illness may not be covered by certain vouchers. Meanwhile, the insurance companies will rake in government premiums paid for by the Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare Vouchers are cash cows for insurance companies, just like Medicare D plans are for the pharmaceutical companies.

Thankfully, the Affordable Care Act aka "Obamacare" fixed the "donut hole" so seniors will see less out of pocket expenses for their prescriptions. Nevertheless, as more drugs are made available "over the counter", the Medicare D won't pay for them anyway, while premiums for the "D" benefit continue to roll in.

Congressman Paul Ryan made a name for himself proposing cuts to Medicare via the proposed implementation of a proposed Voucher program. Yet, the fact is, he and his family can afford health care coverage even if here were no Medicare benefit. Moreover, Congressman Ryan has the best government health insurance available, paid for by US taxpayers.

Insurance companies are understandably profit driven. But it's unethical for them to access Medicare money to inflate their profits,  not to mention the risk of insurance fraud it opens up for people who can't manage how to shop for Medicare Vouchers.

Please forward this blog, kind readers, to people who think the idea of Medicare Vouchers are a savior for the Medicare system.  

Saving the Medicare system takes more beneficiaries who require fewer health care services who are younger than 65 years old. Medicare would be financially healthier if younger beneficiaries were better informed about how to manage their health care.

Medicare Vouchers aren't the answer to fixing the program's solvency. Informed beneficiaries are.



Blogger Peter Barbella said...

Can anyone explain, in plain English, exactly what is a Medicare Voucher system? Precisely how is it going to cost me an additional $6000 per year?

I have yet to see a rationale explanation that would allow me to take sides one way or the other.

Peter Barbella

8:33 AM  

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