Save Medicare! Stop the corporate takeover by Medicare Advantage plans.

by Larry Pareles, MD, Indivisible Northampton-Swing Left Western Mass.

Our Medicare system is fracturing into two separate systems: the original, non-profit Medicare, which works for the public good, and privatized Medicare Advantage which gives huge profits to private insurance corporations. Medicare Advantage is bad for individual recipients and very bad financially for the country.  

Medicare Advantage is allowing big insurance companies to take over the public Medicare system for their own profits. With Medicare Advantage plans, insurance companies are overbilling the public by 22% in excessive administrative costs, profits, and broker fees. This corporate rip-off of the American public is a staggering $80 billion per year – which equals 10% of the entire Medicare budget! That’s more than twice what it would cost to pay for free dental, hearing, vision care, and drugs for all Medicare beneficiaries, with billions of dollars remaining for even more benefits.

This is public money that flows out of the healthcare system into the hands of private corporations and investors. It is happening right in front of our eyes and it’s getting worse as Medicare Advantage grows. 

This is bad for individuals since these private Advantage corporations limit peoples’ medical care to get greater returns. And it’s bad for all Americans because this public money is being taken out of the Medicare system, away from providing real healthcare, for greater corporate profits. This weakens the whole Medicare system, making it less and less affordable, and could make it fail. 

Advantage plans have very high overhead.

Traditional Medicare has overhead costs of about 2%. Medicare Advantage has overhead costs of 22%, with much of this money going for private profits. While the Affordable Care Act (or “ObamaCare” in 2010) attempted to rein in excessive profits and administrative costs for Medicare advantage plans, an increasing number of Medicare Advantage corporations are working through health care provider organizations that aren’t regulated by the same cost controls that govern the Advantage plans. 

If this privatization of the system continues, the Medicare program will likely become unaffordable for our country. The trustees estimate that the Hospital Insurance Trust Fund of Medicare will run out of money as early as 2028. By paying huge profits to insurance corporations, the high costs of Medicare Advantage could drive Medicare out of business. 

Save Medicare!

Now is the time to stop the corporate takeover of Medicare by Medicare Advantage –  before it bankrupts the system. Now we must act to save Medicare.  

Medicare provides medical insurance for people 65 and older, and for people with certain disabilities and medical conditions. Funding is provided by workers paying into a federal fund during their working years.

Original / Traditional Medicare is a fee-for-service health plan administered by the federal government that provides hospital insurance and medical insurance. After participants pay a deductible, Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amount, and you pay the rest. Separate Medicare drug plans are available. Traditional Medicare includes all enrolled physicians and hospitals – without pre-approvals, limited networks, and denials of care. However, it doesn’t cover hearing, dental, or eye care.

Medicare Advantage Plans are health insurance run by for-profit private insurance companies that contract with Medicare. These plans include hospital insurance, medical insurance, and often drug coverage. Some plans offer extra benefits that Traditional Medicare doesn’t cover, but there are significant disadvantages –  including limited networks, required pre-approvals, delays and denials of care, and more.