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Trump Administration Peppers Inboxes With Plugs for Private Medicare Plans

Category: Political News,Politics

Democratic members of Congress from Connecticut recently sent a letter to the administration expressing concern that officials were “inappropriately working to steer Medicare beneficiaries to Medicare Advantage plans.” The agency has an obligation to “provide beneficiaries with accurate information from a neutral, balanced perspective,” said the letter, signed by Senators Richard Blumenthal and Christopher S. Murphy and Representative Rosa DeLauro, among others.

Even without encouragement from the government, Medicare beneficiaries might be gravitating to private plans.

Many people have become accustomed to managed care plans through their employment. When they reach age 65, they are comfortable opting for a private plan — in some cases, a Medicare Advantage plan offered by the same company that provided their employer-based coverage.

Writing this past week in The New England Journal of Medicine, Patricia H. Neuman and Gretchen A. Jacobson of the Kaiser Family Foundation pointed to other possible attractions.

Medicare Advantage plans offer a variety of extra benefits like dental care and gym memberships, they said. Private plans protect against catastrophic health care costs, with an annual limit on out-of-pocket spending for doctors’ services and hospital care. In addition, they said, private plans “offer the convenience of one-stop shopping for all their coverage.”

By contrast, beneficiaries in traditional Medicare typically pay one premium for coverage of doctors’ services, another premium for drug coverage and often a third premium for supplemental insurance like a Medigap policy or a retiree health plan.

Ann E. Mason, 77, of Rochester, said she was “very, very satisfied” with her Medicare Advantage plan. The plan, offered by the local Blue Cross and Blue Shield company, has a network of providers, but most local doctors are in it, she said.

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