Opinion: Medicare Advantage Plans are NOT Medicare

Remington Write

Nor are they advantageous for the people who sign up for them

Art in the cityPhoto byAleXander Hirka* - Used with permission

It’s not as if I’ve ever felt that our society or culture valued me at any point in my life, but at least I was once part of a demographic that got advertisers’ attention.

Yeah, that’s over.

Or….is it?

Months before I turned 65 years of age the sharks had begun circling. Not a day went by when I was not inundated with mail — electronic and paper — shouting the exciting news of my eligibility for this or that Medicare Advantage Plan.

This was not happening because I'm such a valued member of my community (even though I actually am). I'm just another potential tic on a massive spreadsheet that preys on old people who don't do the research before signing up for these rip-off plans.

Show of hands. Who’s surprised to learn that the insurance industry — as well as Medicare itself (shame, shame, shame) — has been behind the should-be illegal push to get millions of old people to sign up for the Medicare Advantage plans which aren’t Medicare at all? Moreover, are we at all shocked to learn that most of the large insurers benefitting from this racket are being accused of fraud?

Didn’t think so.

What happens when you or I get accused of Medicare/Medicaid fraud?

Fines of up to $250,000 and the possibility of four years in prison. Wait, let’s keep playing this game. It’s fun, isn’t it? Another show of hands, how many insurance CEOs are going to do time behind this little dog and pony show?

We know they won’t. It’s not as if we’re in Iceland here where they actually jailed the bankers responsible for the 2008 financial disaster.

Another day, another boatload of Big Money bigshots ripping off the public. Garbage in, garbage out. Before we can even process the details of this latest choking outrage, three more have hit the front pages. No one in the insurance industry is losing sleep over this. They have lawyers and fixers and an army of lobbyists on the job.

We can either grind our teeth and scream in fury over yet another instance of the guys with all the cookies grabbing more of ours. In fact, let’s do that.

Let’s do that for fifteen minutes.

Ok, we can stop that now.

True, that didn’t land any fat white-collar thieves in the slammer but maybe it bled off some of our own internal poison. Now let’s look at it from another perspective. You know, to bleed off more poison.

We may be old. We may be wrinkly and out of commission due to some of the thousand natural shocks which flesh is heir to. We may sometimes have to pause for long seconds to remember the name of, well, anyone. We can be cranky about the dumbest stuff and still be blithely unaware of blocking people’s progress up escalators at times. We may be the only ones still wearing masks when we shop (boy, the stares I’m getting these days).

But there are some very wealthy, important people who rely on us.

Oh, and by all means do go right ahead and eat healthy and exercise all you want (there are several other industries that are counting on us all to do that).

In fact, anything we do to stay vertical and sucking air for another decade or so is just dandy to the bottom line of these enormous multinational conglomerates. The insurance head of these corporate hydras is ready to reap the benefits of our extra years of needing even the smallest help with plantar fasciitis, cluster headaches, or GERD.

The insurance industry — and by extension, the health care industry — depends on us to need many procedures and tests and doctor’s visits and hospital stays so they can all soak the taxpayers of this country for more billions of dollars. Our healthcare needs provide a convenient smokescreen for their fraudulent cookie-grabbing.

It’s nice to be needed, huh?

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Covert dilettante with an omnivorous capacity for wonder. Writing because I can't not write. Always watching for the hidden patterns and connections. I don't know I cannot fly..........and so I do.

New York City, NY

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