Medicare: Good for Seniors, Bad for Policy
Obamacare and Medicare go hand in hand. Medicare is the most covered subject in the new Obamacare law. Title III covers improving the quality and efficiency of Medicare. Medicare reform is a hot topic issue under the Obama administration, and this law leaves many questions about how the Medicare Trust will be expanded over the next 20 years. Most of the reform to Medicare under Obamacare focuses on lowering costs to seniors and ending massive overpayments to insurance companies. In order to understand the changes Title III brings to Medicare, let’s start with the basics of the Medicare program.
Medicare is a government-run program for seniors age 65 and over, certain younger people with disabilities, and people with End-Stage Rental disease (ERSD). There are different coverages under Medicare called Part A, Part B, Part C, and Part D. Part A is hospital insurance including inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care and some healthcare costs. Part B is medical insurance including doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies and preventative services. Part D is prescription drug insurance. Private companies contract with Medicare to provide you with Part A and Part B benefits.
You may notice that I skipped Part C, as this is a private coverage option called Medicare Advantage (“MA”). MA plans include HMOs, PPOs, Private Fee-for-Service, Special Needs, and MMSAPs. Most MA plans also offer prescription drug coverage. MA is actually the reformed portion of Medicare that is covered under Obamacare. Most of the problems that need to be fixed come under MA, and this stems from where MA plans claimed to give “free” coverage to seniors. This “free” coverage in all actuality drove up the cost of the plans and subsequently drove up Medicare costs. Let’s look at how Obamacare plans to fix Medicare under the new law.
Medicare + Obamacare, Title III = Messy
Obamacare plans to reform Medicare to help seniors afford prescription medications (e.g., the Part D drug coverage limit where seniors must start paying out-of-pocket for prescriptions). In 2012, seniors received a 50% discount on brand-name drugs and 14% discount on generic drugs covered under Medicare Part D. This is continued under Obamacare, and increases coverage every year until the hole is filled in 2020. Seniors will only pay normal drug co-pays after that (whatever that is supposed to mean).
Additionally, Obamacare is supposed to stop excess spending on MA. MA is currently causing a burden on the taxpayer that is disproportionate to the actual amount of people being helped by the program. MA is run by private insurers and costs about $1,000 more per person on the program. Obamacare plans to extend the life of the Medicare Trust fund to at least 2029. This 12-year extension is needed due to reductions in waste, fraud, abuse and program costs. In the end, Medicare beneficiaries are expected to save about $4,200 over the next 10 years due to lower drug costs, free preventative services, and reductions in growth of health spending.
You might be thinking, “This sounds great! I’m glad Grandpa Joe will be getting all of the coverage he needs with no further expense to anyone else.” Wrong. It is the younger generation that will be feeling the heat from this reform of MA and reform of Medicare under Obamacare – not the government. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at how Obamacare’s Medicare changes affect you.
Crushing the Younger Generation One Baby Boomer at a Time
I want to preface this section with the fact that I have nothing against the older generations. These generations will inevitably be reduced to using the healthcare coverage associated with Medicare – how I wish our generation could be so accustomed to use in the future. What I do believe is this – the older generation has failed the younger generation and we let them do it. We are the reason Obamacare is occurring right now. We are the reason the older generation is getting away with this abomination of a law. The older generation has failed to run this country with the dignity and respect that an American politician/representative/Senator/Cabinet member/Supreme Court Justice/Vice President/President should – and we let them do it. When are we going to stand up and fight for what is truly right for our generation?
Rant over. Now let me show you exactly how Obamacare’s Medicare reform is screwing over the younger generation (i.e., you and me). Obamacare relies heavily on the younger generation’s involvement in the healthcare exchange. As former President Bill Clinton stated recently, “This only works if young people show up.” He is right. And, Obama agreed with the former President: “The way pools work, any pool, is essentially those of us who are healthy subsidize somebody who’s sick, at any given time. We do that because we anticipate at some point we’ll get sick and we hope that the healthy person is in our pool so those costs and those risks get spread. That’s what insurance is all about.” Kind of, Mr. President. Health insurance is a completely different insurance from auto, home, or life insurance. We count on health insurance to cover those costs associated with medical expenses (i.e., check-ups and doctors visits). We do not expect an auto insurer to pay for costs associated with keeping a car maintained, though it would be a wonderful spectacle to observe. Insurance is provided in cases of unplanned instances – that is what insurance should be.
You would think in a capitalist market that shopping around would be a valid opportunity given to the younger generation, especially considering the younger generation is the most important participant. You would be wrong. In order to fund the ever-so-rising costs of Medicare, the healthy (young and old, but mostly young) are required to sign up for Obamacare and pay higher-premium plans. Sure, it covers more – but why do you need all of it? Simple answer: you don’t. But it is necessary for you to pay more into the system so that the older generation can pay less.
Let me turn to Obamacare supporters’ arguments to the above: subsidies. Most of the younger generation will get taxpayer-provided subsidies for those premiums. This is true. However, they will not get subsidies on the deductibles. This means that the younger generation will still be paying thousands upon thousands each year before the insurers will pay their first dollar of benefits. What does this mean? The younger generation will never get benefits.
Let me turn to my argument against Obama supporters’ arguments: taxes. I am a tax gal, and I look at whether there is redistribution in taxes in general. You will be surprised to learn that there is already a redistribution of funds from the younger to the older generation through the tax system. Elderly households receive more government benefits and pay less tax. Younger households receive less government benefits and pay more tax than they receive back. After doing some research on the actual number for redistribution, it is assumed that over $9,000 per household is transferred from the younger to the older generation. Obama just accelerates this redistribution. In addition, many of the young people under Obamacare will not qualify for subsidies (which cut off at $48,000 for a single adult).
My Overall Thoughts (and Final Points) on Obamacare
Obamacare is bad policy and will not work in this crippled American economy. On the surface, it only screws over the rich and the young. In depth, it screws over everyone (young, old, rich, poor, white, black). Even the politicians tried to exempt themselves from the policy to no avail. This law was thrown together too quickly so that President Obama would have a lasting legacy. Obama needed something to cover up the failed economy, high unemployment rates, and tragic Benghazi scandal. Obama needed this to propel him into being a rockstar President.
Obama pushed this law for what it could not afford – you can keep your doctor, you can keep your healthcare plan, you will have reduced premiums, you will pay less taxes. Obama could not promise these and in fact had no right to promise these items to the American people. Obama was not a businessman – he was a lawyer. Think about that.
Obamacare fails to work because it pits the young against the old. The younger generation is taking the brunt of the economic failures from the Obama administration. Job creation is extremely important at this time, yet the President failed to mention this topic during the 2014 State of the Union address. Most of the jobs available right now are part-time positions with no advancement (thank you, Obamacare). Most of the younger generation, though educated, are having to work two part-time jobs unrelated to their degrees just to get by in this economy. This isn’t the younger generation Obama wanted for his Obamacare plan…in fact, I don’t believe he knew how bad the economy was until the roll-out of Obamacare occurred. Remember, Obama was not a businessman – he was a lawyer. Lawyers look at the outcome, businessmen look at the growth. If Obama was a businessman he would have found no potential for growth under Obamacare, thus no outcome would occur. Obama, just like our Congress, was blinded by an unattainable outcome.
It is important that our generation understands that we must be the change we want to see in this world. We cannot rely on the politicians in office to do this for us anymore. Get involved in politics and reading law – it might help you one day. My four-part Obamacare segment is complete. If you have any other questions, feel free to drop me a line here or on any other social media outlet. Also, if you want, follow my blog through email! You will get all of my posts earlier than I post them on social media. Thanks for reading!