Opinion: New to Medicare? Please consider this

Please choose “original” Medicare and avoid the so-called “advantage” plans

  • By Emily Kane
  • Saturday, December 3, 2022 12:54pm
  • Opinion

Medicare was signed into law by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, a long 20 years after it was proposed by Harry Truman. American workers (most of us) have been paying into this pot for decades. Medicare’s Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is worth over $140 billion. So, the sharks are circling. Please choose “original” Medicare and avoid the so-called “advantage” plans which can lure you with lower premiums but which are for profit, with “obligations” to their shareholders, not their subscribers. This is well documented. Medicare Advantage is only able to offer low premiums and out-of-pocket caps by delaying or denying care on the back end, and by discouraging the sickest patients from enrolling. Medicare Advantage allows seniors to choose their health plan, but it restricts the much more crucial choice of doctor and hospital by using narrow provider networks. Commercial health insurers will never be satisfied with even their current, outrageous profits.

It’s about to get worse. Starting in January, the REACH (Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health) program will allow many hospital networks to “manage” the care of seniors who have declined to participate in Medicare Advantage — without our knowledge! So long as we allow profit-seekers to control our health, they will deny us care, stick us with exorbitant costs, and keep the lion’s share for themselves. The only true solution to our country’s health care crisis is Medicare for All, but if we allow corporations to take over Medicare, we will never see this achieved. While Medicare Advantage is rife with problems caused primarily by the greed of insurance companies, patients at least have the choice between an Advantage plan or Traditional Medicare. REACH takes away that choice by “aligning” beneficiaries with REACH entities without their full knowledge or consent. The only way for patients to leave the program (for now) is by finding a new primary care doctor. In Alaska at this time only PeaceHealth Hospital in Ketchikan has “aligned” with REACH. It’s crucial that we end REACH, to restore choice to Medicare beneficiaries. This could be done by executive order, so please contact your federal representatives and urge them to stop the corporate greed around the money you have paid into this public pot.

To start, when signing up for Medicare, choose the traditional, not for profit, plan. Really do your homework before being tempted by “advantage.” Further, when voting legislative leaders into public office, understand their thinking on Medicare, our largest public health care network, which, with our help, will continue to serve retirees long term, without being decimated by profit-mongers.

• Dr. Emily Kane is a senior advocate. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

More in Opinion

Have something to say?

Here’s how to add your voice to the conversation.

A bus passes by City Hall downtown in late June. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
My Turn: Juneau City Hall and mail-in voting

I have voted for a new City Hall because I think it… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire File)
Letter: Current City Hall is an ongoing money pit

I have been following the ongoing dialog regarding the proposed City Hall… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire File)
Letter: Food for thought

As we ready ourselves to go to the polls soon, I invite… Continue reading

(Juneau Empire File)
Letter: Better ways to enhance Juneau’s capital status than new City Hall

Some promoters of a new City Hall claim our current city buildings… Continue reading

Recent clearcut logging on land owned by Sealaska Corp. at Cleveland Peninsula, just north of Ketchikan. (Photo by Rebecca Knight)
My Turn: ‘There are no landless Natives in Southeast Alaska’

Those are the words of Department of Interior Secretary Jim Lyons and… Continue reading

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File
Voters in the City and Borough of Juneau municipal election will decide this fall whether to approve $27 million in bond debt to fund the majority of the construction cost for a new City Hall. A similar $35 million measure was rejected last year.
My Turn: A viable alternative to a new City Hall

Juneau is being asked to decide on funding a new City Hall…again.… Continue reading

Juneau’s current City Hall is outdated, according to local municipal leaders who are hoping voters will approve funding to help pay for a new building. A bond providing such funding was rejected last year. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
My Turn: History shows Assembly can’t be trusted on new City Hall issue

Do you want to know why our Assembly is struggling to pass… Continue reading

Most Read