Medicare Advantage Will Get Hit With Health Care Reform

Since even before Medicare was passed in 1965 its been a source of frustration and intense debate from The Hill to Main Street. From concierge doctors to family physicians, politicians and family gatherings, health care reform is still a tough subject to grasp.

While Andy Griffith is currently appearing in television ads explaining Medicare changes to seniors, and the White House is praising its upcoming health care overhaul, the facts of how Medicare will change still remain a bit fuzzy.

1965. A lot of good things came out that year, like Medicare. This year, like always, we’ll have our guaranteed benefits and, with the new health care law, more good things are coming. Free checkups. Lower prescription costs and better ways to protect us and Medicare from fraud. See what else is new. I think you’re gonna like it, says Andy Griffith in his new TV ad. (Time.com) Seems to be pretty simply and explanatory, right? In reality, its a little more complicated.

Time.com states that Medicare Advantage, will in fact be greatly affected by health care reform, causing many seniors who have Medicare Advantage plans to lose fringe benefits that are not required by law. According to the Wall Street Journal, dozens of Medicare Advantage providers plan to cut back vision, dental and prescription benefits. Some plans are eliminating free teeth cleanings and gym memberships, and raising fees for hearing aids, eye glasses and emergency-room visits.

Medicare Advantage plans will take the biggest hit when the health care overhaul starts to take effect next month, mainly because Medicare Advantage plans are privately run plans that offer additional benefits beyond traditional Medicare. Obamas health care overhaul cuts to Medicare Advantage will open up the doors for 30 million Americans who currently dont have health insurance c overage. By taking some funding away from Medicare Advantage, money can be put towards those 30 million uninsured.

Democrats say the payment cuts are fair because Medicare overpays private insurers to run the plans. The government now pays private insurance companies an average of 9% more to operate the plans than it costs the government to run traditional Medicare, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent congressional agency. That allows insurers to offer richer benefits to enrollees. (Wall Street Journal Online)

As for standard Medicare plans, they will not change, a common misconception among seniors according to Time.com. In a July poll, 50% of seniors believed health care reform would cut benefits that were previously provided to all people on Medicare, and that Medicare patients will have to spend more out of their own pocket. The reality is that while Medicare Advantage will change dramatically, standard Medicare will not, according to Time.com.

The law requires Medicare to pay 100% of preventive care, which includes checkups. The law will also gradually close the Medicare prescription drug gap known as the doughnut hole.