Monday, December 16, 2013

Seniors Next to Feel Obamacare Pain

Because of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans are paying higher premiums and experiencing a reduction in benefits and disrupted coverage. And that’s just the beginning. 

That’s the dire message from America’s Health Insurance Plans, which predicts will hit seniors even harder over the next two years.

In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Marilyn Tavenner in late November, AHIP CEO Karen Ignagni said the Medicare Advantage program faces “severe underfunding” due to the administration’s regulatory actions to the program.

Another message from the carrier group? Let the carriers decide how to best handle the cuts so they can preserve benefits — and that includes being able to cut networks.

More than 14 million seniors and individuals with disabilities, or roughly 28 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries, have chosen to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan because of the better services, higher-quality care, and additional benefits these plans provide. While beneficiaries value the program, it is facing a future of severe underfunding due to a combination of legislative and regulatory actions in recent years,” the officials at AHIP wrote.  

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act includes more than $200 billion in Medicare Advantage payment cuts, most of which haven’t gone into effect yet, and imposes a new health insurance tax that begins next year.

Though there’ve been ominous warnings about Medicare Advantage plan cuts for the past year, benefits experts say those predictions are turning into reality. ...