Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What 850,000 assholes don't know

Yesterday I got a robocall asking me to "just press one" in order to join 850,000 other Medicare recipients in a campaign to save Medicare Advantage. It went on for about two-and-a-half minutes, progressing from "surely you want to press one" to "IF YOU DON'T PRESS ONE YOU WILL DIE!!!"

Actually, I'm not on Medicare yet, and I won't need Medicare Advantage when I go on it because I'll have secondary insurance via my former employer. Of course, there was another reason I wasn't about to press one.

Unlike the 850,000 already signed on with the insurance industry's front group, I'm not an idiot.

I had a look at the Medicare Advantage plans available in my area. Most of them, naturally, are HMOs. If I correctly recall the Clinton era, the advantage of an HMO is greater efficiency, which makes it possible for the HMO to offer enhanced coverage for the same amount of money as the usual fee-for-service coverage. Other Medicare Advantage plans either use preferred provider networks (doctors willing to accept reduced fees for more business), or allow the insured to use "Any Willing Doctor" [emphasis added] – to wit, any doctor willing to accept reduced fees.

What those 850,000 assholes don't understand is that the government subsidy to the insurance industry for offering Medicare Advantage plans – roughly 14% – does not pay for additional services. It goes straight to insurance company profit margins. If the final health care reform bill includes a public option, the privates quickly will learn to do without their 14% markup.


My congressman punked out early, and did a health care teleconference instead of a town meeting. It was done well, but I still was disappointed – I wanted to get out there and mix it up with the local Republican crazies, waving my "Smart People for Single Payer" sign, and wearing my "Obama's not a Socialist, but I AM" button. Well, life is full of disappointments. Sigh.

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