Thursday, December 10, 2009

Medicare Buy-In at 55: Does it really work?


The Washington Post has a constructive editorial “Medicare sausage: The emerging buy-in proposal could have costly unintended consequences,” Thursday, Dec. 10, link here.

This has to do with a proposal to let pre-seniors 55-64 buy into Medicare rather than buy insurance on the exchanges, which may be much better for them (particularly if younger people pay higher premiums and their premiums are regulated).

What I found with retiree health insurance is that even though the premium was somewhat high and paper benefits limited (70% inpatient coverage the last year – fortunately I didn’t have to use it), ING and United Health Care apparently negotiated huge discounts for insured patients, at least at the Virginia Hospital Center and presumably all similar facilities. So a cat scan (which I did need) that started out as $1700 was “only” $370 when covered by insurance, and I had to make a copay of “only” $170 (plus about $20 for the radiologist).

The same practice exists with auto insurance. Body shops charge much less—flat rates --- for repairs covered by insurance.

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