Will Medicare for All mean Medicare Advantage for all?

I am for a single-payer national health care system and I support Medicare for All.

As a 70+ retiree who has just gone through the process of cancer surgery and now recovery, I have been investigating the transition of Medicare as a public government program into a mainly private insurance program.

I’m no expert.

But what I have discovered is disturbing.

Dring the presidential primary Joe Biden rejected Bernie Sanders proposals for Medicare for All. The Supreme Court is scheduled to rule on the Affordable Care Act this session. The Trump majority on the Court may throw it out.

President-elect Joe Biden’s proposals fall short and a bad ruling by the Court is a big danger.

But another danger that has flown under the radar is that using Medicare as a vehicle to expand health insurance coverage begs the question, what version of Medicare are we talking about.

Will “Medicare for all” end up as “Medicare Advantage for all”?

With only a few policy wonks paying attention, the Medicare program is becoming more privatized as the private Medicare Advantage programs and plans continue to grow.

Over 20 million people—34% of all Medicare beneficiaries—were enrolled in MA plans in 2018, an amount that the Congressional Budget Office projects will grow to about 42% by 2028.

Consumer advocates at the Center for Medicare Advocacy argue that private Medicare Advantage programs are not serving either the Medicare program or its enrollees well.

Democrats and Republicans continue to enact laws and implement policies that favor privatization.

This Friday has become known as Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year. This year more of the shopping will be done online because of the pandemic.

But many retirees using private Medicare Advantage programs know that we are in the middle of the open enrollment period – a form of a healthcare Black Friday.

The average Medicare beneficiary will have to choose among 33 Medicare Advantage plans – the largest number in the past decade, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

The number of standalone Part D drug plans also is up – the average beneficiary will have a choice of 30 standalone plans, KFF reports.

The private market may be okay to buy a Christmas gift.

It’s not so good for figuring out our coverage and health care options.

7 thoughts on “Will Medicare for All mean Medicare Advantage for all?

  1. Medicare operates at about 4% overhead, and private insurance at about 20%-25 (that’s what supports stock prices and excessive executive salaries). There are huge savings to be gained there. If there were Medicare expansion – or at least a public option – taxes to support it would go up but paying private insurance premiums would go down farther. That would help employers and employees. Insurance companies use the term “loss ratio”, meaning how much they spend on us, and that term reveals their true attitude: expenses for our health is seen as a “loss.” One more thing: no financial system will work without addressing the core clinical drivers of healthcare costs and investing in prevention. One thing every individual can and should do now is complete an advance directive.

  2. 1) I am very tried of all the advertising these plans do at this time of the year – It is nearly as bad as the political stuff we just got hammered with. (poor Joe Willie)

    2) Then comes the drugs stuff.

    3) Positively – in the past three years by shopping this companies we have picked up some additional benefits we did not have that we actually use (givebacks, OTC items ) worth a $2500 a person in my case-

    4) I have found local agents types who present multiple carriers who know a lot about many of the program and are helpful.

    If you do the work you will be surprised what you will find –

    Yes there is a large amount of overhead in health particularly when government in involved.

  3. My sister, a physical therapist providing in home care for elderly patients, detests Medicare Advantage. Those privatized plans restrict services to certain networks, unlike original Medicare, and her patients often request her without understanding that their new Advantage plan will not cover her services as their old plan did. She ends up providing care without compensation. Advantage plans also may have high co-pays and deductibles that her patients are not aware of or able to cover. Who wins– the insurance companies. I just signed up for Medicare and was appalled by all the promotions for Advantage plans I received in the mail and from phone solicitors, with the false message that original Medicare is inferior. Even for original Medicare, the choices are confusing, with Medigap, Part D, and dental. We need single payer, now, for all ages.

  4. I am a SHIP counselor. I want to put in a word so everyone will know what SHIP counselors do and how to contact us.

    If you are making a choice during Open Enrollment (Oct 15 to Dec 7 every year) or new to Medicare and confused, SHIP counselors are a good resource.

    SHIP counselors are trained at the State or Local level. Medicare (CMS, the Center for Medicare and Medicare Services) mandates that each state have a SHIP program. SHIP counselors provide free, impartial information. Your options vary by county, sometimes even by zip code.

    You can find your local SHIP at shiptacenter.org.

    The counselor you speak to will be able to help you understand your choices and the service will be free to you.

    Many people think that they HAVE to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan based on the ads they see. This is NOT true. You need to understand your choices before you sign up. Please contact your SHIP program at shiptacenter.org!

  5. Medicare Advantage lure people in with perks like free gym memberships or even dental services. If you get seriously ill, you are placing your life in the hands of the insurance industry that can deny service for a multitude of reasons. As of now, people can return to traditional Medicare, which most would do with a critical illness. The only people that might prefer Medicare Advantage would be younger, healthier seniors that might be interested in the perks. Like charter schools that cream the cheapest and easiest to educate, the state will be left with those that have the most serious illnesses and most expensive to treat. Any agreement with the private sector implies that the government will bear most of the burden once costs go up.

  6. There was an article in the Times a few months ago stating that the decision to enroll in Medicare Advantage was,”effectively irrevocable.”

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