Much has been made of the changes in the health insurance landscape brought about by the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) during President Obama’s administration. It seems that you can’t turn on the news or open the paper these days without getting at least one story about health insurance, the federal insurance exchange, or another health insurance company pulling out of the individual health insurance market due to the high costs associated with ACA-compliant plans.
But interestingly, there have been many changes made to Medicare under Obama’s years in office. However with the ACA taking most of the spotlight, you may not have heard of all of them. The unfortunate outcome of these changes is that 9 out of 10 solo practitioners are now saying they will likely not accept new Medicare patients. This news is concerning, especially with 10,000 baby boomers reaching Medicare age every day. Who will take care of them all?
And there have been lots of new regulations placed on Medicare physicians, and many people believe this compromises the quality of care and keeps doctors focused more on paperwork and computer screens and less on the patient in front of them. Because Obama has capped annual fee increases for services to Medicare patients at 1%, many doctors see Medicare patients as a financial burden they just can’t afford.
The Obama administration has proposals under consideration right now that would open up Medicare benefits to people in their 50’s. On the surface this might seem like a good idea, but if you think about it, this would force current Medicare recipients to compete with younger patients for already scarce resources. It’s unlikely that a change of this magnitude could be implemented during the remainder of the Obama presidency. However if Clinton is elected in November, she would likely push to implement similar changes.
Wiley Long is founder and president of Medigap Advisors, and is passionate about helping people navigate the confusing waters of Medicare. He is the author of The Medicare Playbook: Designing Your Successful Health Coverage Strategy, a clear and simple explanation so you can make the most of your Medicare coverage. For more information visit www.MediGapAdvisors.com.