The fall is nearly here. It is time for retirees in the United States to select their renewal Medicare plan. Younger people do not pay attention. They should; their money is at stake in the decisions of their parents, grandparents, and other senior family members.
There will be a deluge of advertising on TV promoting Medicare Advantage plans. We will see happy seniors who saved money and got a bunch of freebies by calling that magic 800 number. It sounds like Christmas every day. And it is equally realistic.
Medicare is not as good as many believe it is
We often hear that Medicare for everyone would be the ideal health care policy in the United States. I doubt that, as a Medicare user and writer with a fair knowledge of health care in the United States.
Before we go to the exciting part, we need a boring introduction to that maze. Medicare is government-run health care for retirees and some younger individuals on permanent disability. As with everything bureaucrats create, it is convoluted. It started in 1965 with coverage for hospital care but within certain limits. It is a so-called Plan A. Parallel, with a small premium, one can buy Plan B covering doctor’s visits and related ambulatory procedures and testing. Presently, Plan B covers only 80% of these fees.
The limitations of Plans A and B mean that the required co-pays could be huge as soon as a need for serious care arises. Consequently, from the beginning of Medicare, private insurers have been offering supplementary insurance, Medigap, covering those high co-pays in Plans A and B. Parallel, there were attempts to integrate private insurance companies in managing Medicare. As those are optional, they are often called Choice plans; in this way, Medicare Part C came into existence. Since 2003, they have been officially called Medicare Advantage.
With the rising prices of new medications, since 2006 we have had Medicare Part D regulating rules of coinsurance for drugs. As a reader might be guessing, soon, other Medigap plans showed up exploring about half of the alphabet, up to N. Medicare is a government-run service, so all supplementary plans offered by private insurance companies need Congress’ approval. In brief, it is practically impossible for most people to…