(Editor’s Note: Viewpoint submissions on this and other topics are always welcome as part of our goal to encourage community discussion and exchange of perspectives.)
Oct. 16, 2019 — America’s largest health insurance carrier, UnitedHealthcare, is going “Trump” in Texas.
Future Medicare enrollees, and current policy holders in traditional Medicare Supplement or “Medi-gap” plans, may wish to consider the implications — and the future risks — for traditional Medicare.
UnitedHealthcare is slashing networks of approved physicians and hospitals that its “Medicare Advantage” policy holders may routinely access.
The estimated impact will approach or exceed 100,000 plan members, including employment-based plans. Such “Advantage” policies allow for significant policy revisions, unlike “traditional” Medicare Supplement or “Medi-gap” policies — which have uniform provisions and protections across the nation.
UH is able to do this since its “Medicare Advantage” policies are a “privatized” alternative form of Medicare-type coverage.
Every “Advantage” policy is subsidized, county by county, across the U.S. with funds drawn from the traditional Medicare Trust Fund.
The higher agent “commissions” have an effect, drawing enrollees away from traditional Medicare. Thus, these “cheaper” policies in fact are shortening the life of Medicare.
At the same time, Trump appointees to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid are expanding efforts to entice Medicare-age enrollees out of “traditional” Medicare and into the market-based Medicare Advantage private system.
They do this by offering new “policy benefits” unavailable to traditional Medicare supplemental policy holders.
Meanwhile, health insurance lobbying efforts maintain a firm grasp on Trump’s bifurcated attention span and GOP Congressional sympathies.
Privatization of Medicare is expanding. This on-going Texas debacle should give pause to anyone hoping that uniform national Medicare Traditional Supplement policy provisions — and protections — remain.
Every new “Advantage” policy, financed on subsidies, disproportionately shrinks the “trust fund” forming the core basis of Medicare.
And your “networks” appear to be at risk.