The debate regarding Medicare is intensifying as the presidential election draws near. As a member with Medicare, or someone who hopes it will be there when you retire, it is important that you find out which candidates have the facts behind their proposals. Your health care access for the rest of your life might depend on your vote in the next presidential election.
To avoid the confusion, you should do your own research. Advertisements are not “proofed” by fact checkers before they are aired, and both sides obviously want to get your vote. That means they won’t tell you the whole truth if just a part of it gives them the advantage.
Both parties support cutting $700 billion from Medicare, but that’s not directed at Medicare beneficiaries. Fallout may reflect back toward them in some ways, though.
The major difference between the candidates is that Obama is trying to cut costs by paying doctors less. Romney backs a voucher called premium support. The unanswered question is what happens to Medicare beneficiaries if money simply runs out. Medicaid patients already have a serious issue finding doctors who will see them because of the low reimbursements, and many doctors are now starting to refuse Medicare patients for the same reason.
Let us take a closer look at Medicare’s budget cuts. Under Obamacare, cuts are across-the-board taken from Medicare Advantage, hospital services, hospice services, skilled nursing services, and other Medicare services. These cuts would reduce Medicare spending. About 15 percent of hospitals may become unprofitable if fees to them are slashed. This could limit Medicare members’ access to health care.
Out of the $716 billion Medicare budget cut, $48 billion would be used to help beneficiaries pay for medication while they are in the coverage gap popularly known as the “donut hole.” However, only a small percentage of members actually fall into that gap. In 2007, only 14 percent were affected by the coverage gap. Forbes columnist Avik Roy points out that the ratio of the cuts and benefits is 15 to 1, which not a good enough deal for beneficiaries.
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.