Private plans offer no “advantage” over Medicare

We are once again in the annual Medicare enrollment period, when those of us on the government-funded, single-payer plan known as Medicare can change plans.

So, a word of warning. For-profit insurers are trying to privatize Medicare for their own benefit. They are selling what are called “Advantage” plans, which offer no real advantages to consumers.

If you’re on Medicare, you’re getting dozens of emails, phone messages, texts and glossy snail-mail demanding your attention. Free gym memberships! Free vaccinations! $0 premiums!

It’s all smoke and mirrors. The ads will have you believe the plans are part of Medicare. They are not.

Don’t be swayed by a gym membership or low- or no-premium plans. Private insurers will make money by covering fewer things, in dramatically narrowed networks. With Medicare, your doctor is covered. In addition, you don’t need referrals, and you don’t have to worry about pre-authorization requirements or a denial that could cause a fatal delay in care.

Private insurance companies care only about profits; Medicare doesn’t make a profit. In fact, it spends more than 95 percent of the money it takes in on direct care; insurance companies had to be forced to spend no less than 70 percent.

What we need is health care that’s affordable, accessible and whose terms are clearly spelled out, and as confusing as Medicare can be, it is always better than a for-profit plan.

Private insurance companies are known for their obfuscation and out and out lies about their coverage. They won’t mention the narrow networks, or the steep copays and deductibles, the short pharmacology list or any of the other ways they will part you from your money.

They have to make up for what they give you. It’s simple math – if they don’t make a profit, they don’t exist.

Don’t be fooled. Advantage plans are a scam.

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