State Representative Tom Burch has introduced HB 445 which would end the ability of Medigap plans to charge higher rates or deny coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions. The legislation is needed because seniors in Kentucky who purchase Medicare Advantage but later seek to return to traditional Medicare and purchase a Medigap plan are no longer protected from underwriting.
Such persons with pre-existing conditions can be charged sky high prices, or denied entirely, a supplementary Medigap plan. The problem is discussed in Medpage Today.
There are only four states where there is some protection against discrimination for pre-existing conditions under these circumstances. This article from Kaiser Family Foundation explains.
Republicans, Democrats and independents are all opposed to charging outrageous rates or refusing to sell policies to people because they are, or have been, sick. The practice is clearly inhumane, and Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care asks all legislators to join with us in banning Medigap discrimination on the basis of pre-existing conditions.
Please call your representative and ask her or him to co-sponsor and support HB 445 so that we can end this injustice to seniors in Kentucky.
Leave a message for your representative here: 1-800-372-7181
Currently there are massive ad campaigns to entice seniors to purchase Medicare Advantage plans by offering additional benefits and lower or no monthly premiums. Such offers are compelling for Kentucky’s many seniors with fixed incomes and tight monthly budgets.
What the ads do not say is that for-profit Medicare Advantage plans place limits on which physicians you can see and which hospitals, rehab centers, and nursing homes you can use. These private plans can also charge co-pays, drop physicians from their networks, and charge large payments for drugs.
The limitations of the Medicare Advantage plans only become apparent when a patient is sick and has to use the plan. When seniors initially become eligible for Medicare, they are protected against discrimination for pre-existing conditions in the purchase of a “Medigap” plan to supplement traditional Medicare. But those who purchase a Medicare Advantage plan and later seek to return to traditional Medicare will find that protection no longer applies.
In addition to the disadvantages brought to seniors by the Medicare Advantage plans, these plans also overbill the government by billions each year in a money grab that diverts Medicare money from health care into the pockets of the insurance companies. By 2012 the diversion of Medicare funds to private companies had already cost Medicare over $282 billion, and it is projected that the overpayments to Medicare Advantage insurers will amount to $200 billion over the next decade.
Speaking on behalf of Kentuckians for Single Payer Health Care, Dr. Garrett Adams stated that Rep. Tom Burch’s bill to end discrimination by Medigap plans on the basis of pre-existing conditions has strong public backing. He added that the longer term solution must be the enactment of a national, improved Medicare for All plan that will finally cover everyone through a not-for-profit single payer system. “Such a plan will end the waste caused by profits, free everyone to choose their own doctors, end discrimination for pre-existing conditions and remove all financial barriers to care,” Dr. Adams said.