Your Letters: Response to the 'Senior Swindle'
Last week's "Beware of the senior swindle" was an example of another political message that contains lots of heat and no light. Perhaps readers (and certainly the writer) would be wiser to get their information from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (www.cms.gov). They could also read the legislation, available online.
According to the Center's April 30 release, during the first three months of 2012, seniors saved $3.4 billion on prescription drugs, 220,000 medicare patients saved an average of $837 on procedures with shared costs, and 8.9 million used free preventative services. These are mandated, and must be included in original Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans.
Medicare under Obamacare also includes two other big differences over previous Medicare: the government now can negotiate with drug companies (prevented under G.W. Bush) and gradually close the donut hole; and this year, Medicare pays 50 percent, while pre-Obamacare paid nothing.
How is this a swindle? If the writer had bothered to read the legislation that applied to Medicare Advantage plans, he would have realized that the reduced payments did not affect seniors. When we opt for a Medicare Advantage plan (and I am a senior and have an advantage plan), we are hiring an insurance company to manage our Medicare. The government then pays the insurance company a management fee. What was reduced was the management fee that the insurance company receives, not the care seniors receive.
Medicare Advantage plans may also include whatever additional services they choose, and they may charge whatever they wish.
The big additional benefit that Obamacare adds is the restrictions on profits. Under old Medicare and health insurance legislation, there were no limits on profits. Under Obamacare, 80 percent of insurance premiums must be spent on the patient's medical care. Any profits greater than 20 percent must be refunded to the insured. Previously, insurance company profits were as high as 70 percent. Why do you think there are so many companies wanting to sell medical insurance?
Before condemning Obamacare, it is wise to read the law instead of listening to detractors. That sheds light on the subject.
Cherie Boen, Wadena