As the debate over the debt ceiling, budget cuts, and economic stimulation wages on in Washington, DC, it’s hard to escape the fact that Medicare is often “on the table” during almost all discussions regarding “deficit reduction.” There are a range of proposals that would affect Medicare, but there are questions as to what those proposals will actually mean for beneficiaries. One federal deficit reduction plan would limit Medicare supplemental insurance (Medigap insurance) plans by restricting coverage of deductibles by those plans.
As with most arguments, those in agreement lock on to a set of positives, while those opposed turn to the negatives. So, let’s take a look at both sides to try to get a clearer picture of who will benefit and who won’t. By restricting Medigap coverage, the government could save money and reduce the debt. However, as a recent report on potential Medigap Limits points out, not all those who depend on Medicare and Medigap coverage will be able to make up for the added personal costs:
“…restricting coverage of deductibles by Medigap plans could save anywhere from $1.5 billion to $4.6 billion a year, depending on how much out-of-pocket expenses elderly beneficiaries would be required to pay.” (from Reuters).
In fact, the study goes on to say that “about one in five Medigap enrollees would pay more.” The hardest hit would most likely be families with a moderate income. Along with financial concerns, others are afraid that enrollees will simply pass up on healthcare treatment that they need in order to avoid the added cost. Those in support of the proposal insist that it will simply reduce unnecessary trips to the doctor and elective care.
There’s very little question that changes to Medicare are on the horizon, which means Medigap coverage could also see changes. Many have taken the “wait and see” approach to it all, but it’s a good idea to stay up-to-date on the latest proposals. After all, these potential changes to the system could change how you have to budget and how you have to look at healthcare.