medicareAfter a lot of talk about potential cuts to Medicare Advantage plans, the opposite actually happened the first day of April.  That’s when federal legislators announced payment rates would be increased by 3.3 percent to insurance companies selling Medicare Advantage plans starting in 2014.  Here’s a little bit about what the legislature has been doing with Medicare plans this year.
Other Impacts 2013 Legislation Has Had on Medicare Coverage
January 1, Congress derailed the 26.5 percent cut scheduled in Medicare doctor reimbursement.  The House of Representatives passed a bill the Senate had approved to delay most cuts for one year.  Two percent of those cuts were delayed for just two months, coming due again in March.
February 15, federal representatives proposed 2.3 percent cuts in Medicare Advantage plan payments.
With 14 million people enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, there had been considerable debate that the cuts would be less severe than first thought.  On March 26, a Congressional Research Service memo had noted that the Health and Human Services Secretary had legal authority to alter how payments were calculated to minimize payment reductions.
Original Medicare payments to doctors really did shrink by two percent since Congress was no longer in session (spring break) to again delay the cuts.
What this Means for You
If you are considering dropping your Medicare Advantage plan and combining a Medigap plan with traditional Medicare benefits, talk to us first.  Advantage plans are only available during the annual October 15 through December 7 enrollment period once you’re out of the initial sign up period.  Medigap plans are available throughout the year if you’re healthy.  If not, an insurance company can decline to cover you.  That’s not true with Advantage plans, though.  They do accept all applications unless you have end-stage renal disease (ESRD).  Even then, there may be a Special Needs Advantage plan where you live that’s specifically designed to meet ESRD care requirements.
I urge you get a professional opinion before making changes in valuable coverage due to the uncertain times we’re experiencing.  Our expert agents can research all of your options to help you make a well-informed decision.

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