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Key Issues Surrounding Medicare Today

Ron Iverson

The National Association of Medicare Supplement Advisors, Inc. (NAMSA), a trade group that works with Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage producers, has developed a website for insurance producers and the public alike.  The domain name of the website is “Rescue Medicare Now.”

Why that name?  Simply, America’s Medicare enrollees face some serious potential problems.  In fact, the proposals would change the face of Medicare forever.  The changes are being touted as “cost sharing,” when in fact, they are “cost shifting”—to Medicare enrollees.  In addition, proponents of cost sharing even refer to their attempt as having “more skin in the game” from Medicare beneficiaries.

We chose the name “Rescue Medicare Now” to alert insurance producers and the Medicare public, before damaging legislation is allowed to change the structure of Medicare forever.  There has probably never been a more immediate serious problem facing Medicare’s 51 million enrollees than currently, and enrollees are not even aware that it is developing behind the scenes.

Here are the problems:

1. Medicare enrollees are facing serious “cost sharing” changes.

2. Unless stopped, most Medicare enrollees will be expected to pay more for their Medicare coverage–as much as $3,050 at the beginning of each year.

3. This will create a hardship on most enrollees.

4. 66% of Medicare Supplement policyholders (6.5 to 7 million) will be discriminated against by imposition of a 20% Medicare Part B premium surtax on people who have plans C and F.

5. Medicare Supplement policies will not be allowed to cover the $550 up-front deductible.

How did this happen? There are politicians at work in Washington, D.C., who want to change the entire structure of Medicare, as we know it.  Strange as it may seem, no individual political party owns the concept, and proponents are busy gathering “bipartisan” support for the notion to be included in a FY 2014 budget bill.

Major proposals call for combining the Part A and Part B deductibles into one deductible of $550, and one of the proposals even calls for implementing a coinsurance requirement of 50% of the first $5,000 of expense, which would be $2,500, and when added to the $550 deductible, would create an up-front expense each year.   Medicare Supplement policies would not be allowed to cover the $550 deductible, but would be allowed to cover the coinsurance amount.

Part of the change also would be to segregate and discriminate against 6.5 million purchasers of Med Supp plans C or F, (of the 11 million Americans who choose Medicare Supplement plans), by proposing a fine/tax/surcharge of 15%-20% on the enrollee’s Part B premiums.  Two of the proposals also call for an increase of $25 per month in 2017, another increase of $25 per month in 2019, and still another increase of $25 per month in 2012 in Part B premiums.

The idea of changing Medicare and Medicare Supplement products has been floating around Washington for nearly two years. It has found its way into the President’s fiscal year 2013 budget, into his FY 2014 budget, into the Affordable Care Act, into the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction committee recommendations, and into an even more important recommendation from MedPAC, an arm of Congress that advises the Congress on Medicare matters, in 2012.

It is highly important that Medicare recipients are able to be made aware of, and understand these issues, and to inform our lawmakers that nobody on Medicare is asking for these changes.  It is surprising that this issue surfaces at a time when 90% of the people on Medicare Supplements are satisfied with their coverage, and 91% recommend it to someone turning 65.

Thus, “Rescue Medicare Now” was born. The site is a place for readers to learn about these needless proposed changes. Lawmakers need to be aware that you have a say in this matter.  The site is an up-to-date, real-time, forum dedicated to giving you sound information, thoughts, and recommendations to keep Washington from eliminating Medicare choices—and totally changing the structure of Medicare.

Since these thoughts are in front of lawmakers now, it is particularly important that Medicare Aged Americans, as well as those on Medicare (and boomers who will soon be Medicare enrollees), act now to deter needless legislation from being enacted.  Please take the time to look through the library of White Papers at the site, to fully understand the implications of this onerous legislation.  Because the issue is so important and so immense we have provided you the information needed to help fight “cost sharing.”



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