Thank you for the article on Medicare in the recent opinion page of Southside Pride. A basic good general overview. However, the section on Medicare Advantage was not accurate. Not surprising since false and misleading information of the wonders of Medicare Advantage are everywhere. It is not Medicare. It is private corporate insurance, designed to undercut Medicare. CMS (The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services) pays them a premium to cover the Medicare Advantage patients, and pays them more to cover these patients than they spend on direct Medicare patients coverage. It was 15 percent more, but that was lowered under Obama. This is not a level playing field and we get screwed: Medicare Advantage does not cover some basic services that Medicare covers, such as emergency transportation to hospital or emergency room (which could cost you $5,000 to $8,000 out of pocket). Also, the sales agents for Medicare Advantage tell you that you can go back on Real Medicare in the future if you wish, but it is not the same. Your health history will be subject to review and your supplemental policy may cost you a great deal more than if you had stayed on straight Medicare. Medicare Advantage does have tinsel and glitter offerings for “free” to lure you to join, but they never tell you what they don’t cover.
These insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage are a fraud. They are subverting Medicare. They have been caught increasing the risk rating of patients by changing a healthy patient’s code to one of greater risk, thus CMS pays them more money. They also screen out truly sick or high-risk patients and force them to straight Medicare or Medicaid, causing extra expense for Medicare. So, they take the healthy, lie to CMS that these patients are higher risk than they are, and make the public pay for it. That’s fraud. CMS has acknowledged that they know this is being done. Yet CMS brings no action against them. A Universal Health Care system has sick, high risk and healthy, old and young, rich and poor, thus spreading the risk over the entire population and lowering the per person cost.
Medicare Advantage is the corporate insurance companies’ way of destroying Medicare as we know it, and is very profitable for them. They are eager to get their hands on our Medicare Trust Fund.
Our health care system is a huge mess because our elected officials are taking money from those benefiting from our broken system. That’s bribery, though legal bribery. If you look to find this money it can be very difficult.
There is a solution: Universal Single Payer Health Care (Improved Medicare for All) is good for business, good for the economy, good for jobs, and one of the rare instances where what is good for business is good for every citizen. Every industrialized nation in the world but the U.S. has universal health coverage, spends about half as much as we do, and has better health outcomes.
The U.S. health care ranking by the World Health Organization is around 33rd in the world, about the same as the poor and U.S.-embargoed Cuba. Our bribed elected officials complain, “It will cost too much” or “Where will the money come from?” Contrast that with the recent $4.5 trillion giveaway by Congress to big corporations, while many small Lake Street and other local businesses got nothing.
Oh … did I say, we’d save tons of money compared to what we spend now, everyone would be covered, have choice of doctor, hospital, clinic, comprehensive care, and have better health outcomes? We spend more per capita for health care than any other nation and have much worse outcomes. This is a bad deal for Americans.
Universal Single Payer should appeal to conservatives because it would save so much money and return competition to the corporate hospital monopoly. It should appeal to liberals because as Sen. Paul Wellstone used to say, “It’s the right thing to do.”
—Papa John Kolstad