Medicare and cost-shifting

In the months leading up to the passage of “Obamacare” in 2010, there was a flurry of pro-and-con Mailbag letters regarding Medicare Advantage, the private insurance-company-run plans with a Medicare contract. Well, in the first debate, President Obama claimed that the Affordable Health Care Act reduces Medicare “overpayments.” This would reportedly include some $180 billion otherwise slated to go to Medicare Advantage plans.

Traditional Medicare does not, for example, cover routine dental procedures. But Medicare Advantage plans frequently do, under their basic medical benefits coverages — or at least they used to, before Obama's “overpayments” cuts have apparently come home to roost. To wit, in 2011 and 2012 my own Blue Shield MA plan included co-payment assistance for many such dental procedures. However, for 2013 it has cut out any and all coverage for these important, often preventive, dental benefits completely.

Yet, is there any senior in the country that has not come to realize how extraordinarily expensive completely uninsured, so-called routine, dental services can be? For the rest of you still-healthy young ones, trust me, they are.

Furthermore, for 2013 the preponderance of increased costs to beneficiaries for various MA medical benefits overall, versus decreased costs, is starkly clear.

Do you suppose then that the original/remaining benefits for these plans were/are not really so exorbitant after all, and that the latter's co-payment, etc. increases are due to what amounts to Obama/Reid/Pelosi's Affordable Care Act cost-shifting to Medicare Advantage seniors? One would think so, wouldn't he/she?

Harvey Pearson
Los Feliz

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