Health care reform has dominated the headlines for months and frankly, I’d pretty much burned out on listening to the furor. After all, when push comes to shove, I have no vote on the final bill anyway. I’d decided that yes, some reforms were certainly in order, and maybe a public option was a good idea, although not a deal breaker.
But last night, through all the noise and with the vulnerability that comes in the wee hours of the morning, something clicked with me that hasn’t before. If Obama is going to get some of his health care “savings” by cutting subsidies to Medicare Advantage* plans, that means he’ll be cutting subsidies to the company that runs my MA plan. And mine is not one of those big national companies like United Health Care or Kaiser; mine operates only in Colorado. So now, finally, it occurs to me that said cuts could cause my company to discontinue its MA plans. That government subsidy is the main reason most insurance companies offer MA plans in the first place — there’s a profit to be made.
Just go to another company, you say? I could, but at the moment, this is the only MA plan that all my doctors and their affiliated hospitals will accept. It took me two years to find a primary care physician I like and whose partners and facilities I like. If my MA plan gets snuffed, I could lose all that. My doctor’s group may or may not be willing to keep me on as a straight Medicare patient (it’s already a non-par† group accepting only a very limited number of new Medicare patients).
I wouldn’t say I’m “scared” by this new realization/understanding, but I am now genuinely worried that the proposed MA changes could affect me very negatively. Only in the last year have I finally become relatively content with my doctor and health care situation, and the thought of losing it is making me sick. (Wait, am I covered for that?)
* Medicare Advantage plans are supplements to Medicare. In exchange for modest premiums (subsidized by the government), they offer benefits over and above basic Medicare and process all claims for both Medicare and Medicare Advantage. The companies administering these plans, however, are the same for-profit insurance companies being castigated by health care reform advocates and yours truly.
†Non-participating. They have not agreed to accept Medicare as payment in full and the patient will be expected to pay any balance due after Medicare and any supplemental insurance has paid.