ObamaCare and Medicare Advantage Plans – What is the impact?

Many clients continue to ask me questions about how Obama Care is going to impact their Medicare.  All kinds of rumors are flying around and the lack of understanding can create quite an anxiety among some.  I have had people ask me, ‘Is it true that Medicare goes away in 2014?’ or the opposite ‘With Obama Care, I can return to a Medicare Supplement with no underwriting, correct? The answers are simply, NO and NO.

One of the biggest challenges I find in all this confusion is the separation of marketing and advertising from carriers that offer both products and the consumer who accidentally combines them together.  For example, some clients might here that Anthem’s rights are going through the roof so they call me thinking this applies to their Medicare Supplement and they want out.  Its very important to really understand what is being said on the radio, tv or media and make sure you obtain all the facts before you make a change.

First, Obama Care’s impact on Medicare plans is they will require participating carriers to increase quality of care for members.  This is a plus!  Through various programs, initiatives and ratings systems, you will see different carriers trying to improve their star ratings and those that don’t will be financially impacted.  Agents are required to discuss star ratings with their clients, but some do not realize this is a result of healthcare reform.

Second, there will be some payment reductions to carriers based on all different types of criteria.  However, many of these plans are in this for the long haul or are already non-for-profit.  So these changes will help separate the men from the boys, so to speak, and may result in the ‘fly by night’ healthplans closing up shop and their membership moving to the top carriers that have been in business long enough to adapt to these changes.

Third, the underwriting associated with Medicare Supplements is not affected by the Healthcare reform for individuals on non-medicare plans.  Since California already has provisions for when you can enroll, regardless of your medical condition, plus other special election periods, those are not changing at this time.  So if you are eligible for Medicare and are not sure?  I always recommend you try the Medicare Supplement first.  This way you are utilizing your guaranteed enrollment period and you can always switch over to a Medicare Advantage Plan if you need to reduce costs.

Finally, keep in contact with your insurance agent so they can provide you with updates as they receive them.  Carriers are in constant contact with their agents including resources to help them with membership retention.   So keep your agent close during this challenging time.  Dont have anyone to call your own?  We can help.  Contact us at 888-268-1912 and let us know your questions or sign up for this blog to stay informed.