• Patience is not my virtue

    OK, so I can’t entirely wait for the conference. Senator Wyden and Representative Ryan wrote an editorial today in the WSJ on their Medicare reform plan. Will someone please explain this paragraph to me?

    Our plan would also expand health-care options for working Americans by giving smaller businesses the opportunity to empower their employees to make their own health-care choices. Under this “free choice option,” employees take the amount that their employer was contributing toward their employer-provided health coverage and use it to purchase their own health insurance instead. The cost to the employer—and the tax-free benefit to the worker—would remain the same.

    Combined with expanded choices for Medicare beneficiaries, this would also make it possible for more and more Americans to transfer into Medicare without having to change doctors and insurance.

    So is this plan more than just Medicare reform? Is it meant to apply to everyone? Is it an expansion/alteration of the ACA? (I’m looking at you, media. ASK!)

    I’m not surprised Sen. Wyden would write that (see Wyden free choice option), but does Rep. Ryan support it? His name is on the editorial…


    • Sounds like the old idea of FSAs and if you’re on Medicare, you can use your FSA $ to buy an MA or Medigap plan. I wonder whether the “expanded choice for Medicare recipients” is the ability to use FSA $ for Medigap & MA plans? Either way, doesn’t sound like it cuts costs or does anything that has any real impact on healthcare coverage, quality, OR cost. Analysis here thus far: ZZZzzzz.

    • Sounds like it’s Wyden-Bennet, but instead of having the government enjoy the benefits of reduced health care costs (and use the income to subsidize insurance) by eliminated the health care deduction workers get to keep the tax benefit in addition to choosing to have less extensive insurance in exchange for higher income.

      There are two obvious questions:
      1. Will there be exchanges a la Wyden-Bennet & the ACA so that employees are still eligible for some group plan? Otherwise premiums will go up for equivalent coverage.
      2. Presumably there will be some maximum health care benefit that employers are allowed to give to employees tax free. What will stop employers from offering the maximum amount to everyone whose salary is higher than that amount? Wouldn’t this result in a huge decrease in tax revenue?

      Perhaps these are addressed in the full editorial, but I can only see your excerpt and the first hundred words or so at wsj.com.

      How in the world will this make it easier for folks to keep the same doctor when they retire? Will all insurance plans offered under some exchange be required to provide continuing coverage to folks in retirement? Isn’t there a big assumption there that some particular company will exist for many decades?