Archive for March 21, 2023

Musings on Medicare

Posted: March 21, 2023 by chrisharper in Uncategorized
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By Christopher Harper

As the debate over the future of Medicare hits its stride during the upcoming presidential campaign, policymakers should look at the cost of Medicare Advantage plans as one way to save money.

Advantage plans are those run by private insurers rather than the government providing government payments for hospital care and physician costs. My plan also includes drugs, dental, and eye care.

Private plans have been an option in Medicare since the 1970s, but enrollment in private plans remained relatively low through the 1990s. Aside from changing the name of Medicare private plans from Medicare+Choice to Medicare Advantage (also referred to as Medicare Part C), the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003 made significant changes that propelled enrollment growth. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 also made many changes that enhanced plan enrollment. As a result, about half of all seniors have a Medicare Advantage plan, or 30 million people, up from 11.5 million in 2010.

Unlike the government plan for Medicare, which costs me $170 a month, whether in the program or an Advantage plan, the private insurer puts money in my pocket to join.

The coverage costs me nothing other than the fee for Medicare. But there’s a lot more. My Advantage plan gives me a $25 monthly reduction in my Medicare payment or $300 yearly. The plan pays my YMCA membership of $43.10 monthly or about $500 annually. The program gives me a $500 debit card to use mainly for dental work and eyeglasses, and I get a credit of $25 a month, or $300 a year, for over-the-counter drugs and items like throat lozenges. All told, that’s $1,600 a year for just signing up.

I’m not exactly willing to give up these perks, but it seems the government has been awfully generous to the private insurers if they can entice me with all these goodies.

The government pays private insurers about $12,000 a year for people who sign up for Advantage plans—a number that has risen significantly in recent years. That allowance is where I think the government should reassess whether that’s too much money.

Although I realize my health is better than many seniors, I cost my insurer about $1,200 last year. I’ll bet there are more people like me in my county, which is the geographical area upon which the government payouts are based.

According to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Lycoming County, where I live in central Pennsylvania, has seen better health since the 1980s. However, lung cancer and diabetes have increased somewhat.

I think various changes must be made to save Medicare, but I think a good hard look at Advantage programs and how they operate may be a good start without causing significant hardships to seniors.

“Be kind to everyone on the way up; you’ll meet the same people on the way down.“

Wilson Miznor

Of all the reactions to the Potential Arrest of Donald Trump for political reasons one of the ones I found most amusing was this:

How DARE Ron DeSantis not say anything about something that hasn’t happened in a state that isn’t his to defend somebody who has not only been attacking him relentlessly but has had their surrogates with the help of the left try to impede him.

Of course this didn’t stop Mike Pence appearing on ABC from calling this out for what it is:

It just feels like a politically charged prosecution here. And I, for my part, I just feel like it’s just not what the American people want to see. We got real challenges in this country today, Jon. People are facing record inflation, a crisis at our border. We have war in Eastern Europe, the American people are anxious about the future and here we go again, back into another politically charged prosecution directed at the former president of the United States, and I would just hope for better.

If I’m DeSantis I don’t say a thing until something happens and if I am asked I’d say something like this:

This is the reason why so many people are leaving NY and choosing Florida you have a DA ignoring actual crime while going after people for political reasons.

Of course what I think he should say is now moot because before I could finish writing the post DeSantis said this:

He hit all the best key points:

  • Soros prosecutor downgraded 50% of felonies to misdemeanors
  • He’s basically weaponizing the office
  • The real victims are the regular people because crime that hurts people is ignored.
  • I’m the only Governor who has removed a Soros prosecutor from office

He even managed an interesting line that I’m sure Donald might not appreciate:

“Look, I don’t know what goes into paying hush money to a pornstar to secure silence over some type of alleged affair. I can’t speak to that. But what I can speak to is that if you have a prosecutor who is ignoring crimes happening every single day in his jurisdiction and he chooses to go back many many years ago to try to use something about pornstar hush money payments, you know that’s an example of pursuing a political agenda and weaponizing the office,”

But given all the attacks Trump has given him he’s got no business complaining. Although his surrogates are all pissed off. I’ll give Brian Jacobson the last word.

If you want people to be your friend when you need them, act friendly.