The latest segment of the continuing Medicare saga began on Monday, Sept. 19, in an article by Robert Pear, published by the New York Times. The article describes what President Obama calls “savings” in the Medicare program. The proposals are many and the article covers them well, but the most interesting part for our purposes comes in the third, fourth and fifth paragraphs. Here they are:
“The proposal would require new beneficiaries to pay higher deductibles before Medicare coverage of doctors’ services and other outpatient care kicks in. The deductible, now $162 a year, is already adjusted for inflation. Mr. Obama would increase it further by $25 in 2017, 2019 and 2021.”
“In addition, the White House would increase Medicare premiums by about 30 percent for new beneficiaries who buy generous private insurance to help fill gaps in Medicare.”
“Many beneficiaries choose these private Medigap policies because they want the financial security they get from the extra insurance. But the White House said this protection ‘gives individuals less incentive to consider the costs of health care and thus raises Medicare costs.’”
A new twist
So, here we go again with the same old misinformation in the third paragraph, but with a new twist in the second paragraph. “Thirty percent more for new beneficiaries who buy generous private insurance …” This part hadn’t surfaced in previous changes recommended to the committee regarding Medicare Supplement. As if that wasn’t enough, the proposal is to increase the Part B Deductible (which is already adjusted upward each year) further — yes, further — in 2017, 2019 and 2021. As I later saw in the actual plan, linked from an article in Medicare Watch, a service of the Medicare Rights Center, this proposal is predicted to save our country $2.5 billion over 10 years.
So now, we have two attacks for Medicare beneficiaries. First, “Don’t you people go buy a generous Med Supp because if you do, we are going to raise your Medicare Part B deductible by 30 percent.” And second, “In addition to adding this 30 percent, we are going to ding you another $25 if you persist.”
What’s really going on
As you might expect, I have some comments on all of this.