• Medicare is complicated

    This morning, Don posted the chart below. It makes Medicare seem very simple. In a narrow sense it is for some (65 years old or older or have another specific disabling condition or disease, you qualify). But actually selecting the right combination of plans for you is not simple.

    As one commenter is very fond of forgetting I know, Medicare is not one thing, nor do most beneficiaries select Parts A and B for the entirety of their coverage. A myriad of private plans (from those sponsored by employers to individually-purchased supplements to Medicare Advantage to Part D drug plans) are options to supplement or serve as alternatives to traditional Medicare. Deciding among them, even understanding the choices, is incomprehensibly difficult to appreciate for those who haven’t had to make the choices or assisted a parent in doing so.

    Sometimes I wonder if everyone who advocates “Medicare for all” is clear on what exactly “Medicare” is and why they think it is the opposite of “private plans.” In so many ways, today, it is not. Medicare is not one thing. The above chart gives a false impression.

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    • I think the chart is wrong: if you have an employer that’s offering health insurance, you’re not allowed to stay on your parent’s health insurance, even if you’re under 26 (that part of the law is intended to cover people with difficulties accessing insurance).

    • There is one other important respect in which Medicare is not what people think, that occurs behind the scenes. All traditional Medicare coverage is administered by private companies, often owned by the Blues. They do the customer service, claims processing and adjudication, etc. People think these are government employees, but they are not.

      Of course, that doesn’t change the choices people face, because no one chooses the back office administrator when you choose traditional Medicare. You just get one based on your geographic region.