The Senate Health Bill that is currently up for consideration is totaling $849 billion, the Congressional Budget Office estimates. The bill would cover more than 94 percent of Americans while cutting the federal deficit by $127 billion over the course of its first 10 years in place. It is estimated that the bill could cut the federal deficit by as much as $650 billion over the following ten years for a total of $777 billion in cuts over a 20 year period.
The new bill was released on Wednesday afternoon by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The new bill is a fusion of the first two versions of the bill that made it past two Senate committees. Next steps with the bill include a procedural vote and debate, which may take place over the weekend. Reid needs to get 60 votes in order to start the debate. Democrats have a 60-vote majority in the Senate. Earlier in November, the House passed a $1.2 trillion version of healthcare reform by only 5 votes – a 220-215 win.
So what does all of this mean for Americans who are enrolled in the Medicare system?
In the long run, it could mean an increase in premiums for Medicare coverage. According to the Associated Press, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that seniors would have to pay $49 billion in higher premiums over the next 10 years if the bill is passed by the House.
What might cause this increase in premium prices? The increase would occur because of a federal law requiring that premiums pay for one-quarter of the cost of Medicare services, including doctor fees and outpatient services, according to the Associated Press.
The Congressional Budget Office also estimates that the legislation would result in a $195 billion price increase in fees for doctors who treat Medicare patients. Tricare beneficiaries would also be impacted; the fees would increase by $64 billion for non-military physicians who see patients in the Tricare program.
One of the best ways that Medicare participants can plan and prepare for increases is to be sure that they evaluate their needs on an annual basis. Many health insurance companies are changing their plans and options to make healthcare continually affordable – even with all of the law changes. Also, many Medicare participants may benefit by enrolling in Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplemental insurance plans now in order to anticipate the impending changes.
If you are interested in learning more about enrolling in a new Medicare program now may help to protect you in 2010? Contact a Medigap insurance specialist for more information today at 866-323-1441.
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.