USA Today had a great article on Medicare premiums. Medicare Advantage premiums fell 4%while enrollment rose 10% this year, despite predictions from opponents of last year’s federal health care law that it would drive down enrollment and force up premiums. Extra benefits in some Medicare Advantage plans, such as for vision or hearing, also are expected to remain the same.
The new statistics disprove the doom-and-gloom predictions of last year and show that because of the 2010 law, Medicare Advantage premiums will go down next year and seniors will enjoy more free benefits and cheaper prescription drugs.
Medicare Advantage allows seniors to leave traditional Medicare and choose private health insurance plans, including health maintenance organizations or preferred provider organizations.
The health care law includes $145 billion in reduced payments to Medicare Advantage providers over 10 years. Critics said lower payments would force insurance companies to increase premiums, and that fewer people would enroll. The CBO predicted that by 2019, Medicare Advantage enrollment would decline by 35% because of a continued reduction in payments to providers.
The critics were dead wrong.
The plans were targeted because the government pays more per capita for beneficiaries in the private plans than it spends on those in traditional Medicare. The billions of dollars cut from the plans were used to help the Obama administration pay for the cost of expanding coverage to 32 million Americans through expanded Medicaid eligibility and subsidies for people buying coverage in new insurance exchanges starting in 2014.