Medicare Advantage Enrollees Discover Dirty Little Secret

by Cheryl Clark: For More Info, Go Here…

Getting out is a lot harder than getting in.

Like many of the 22 million seniors now enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, Tom Mills belatedly discovered its dirty little secret.

Also called Part C, these plans can cover a broad array of health services at low cost — that is, until one gets sick, at which point out-of-pocket costs can soar. But once in an MA plan, getting out can be even less affordable.

After Mills underwent a mitral valve repair and suffered a mild stroke with no lasting effects, the San Diego resident’s plan now charges him hundreds of dollars in monthly copays for drugs and other medical services. He had to pay $295 a night for his hospital stay.

But there was a much bigger shock. Mills, 71, learned that switching out of his MA plan will incur exorbitantly higher costs the next time he needs a serious medical intervention. If he moves to traditional Medicare and a prescription plan, he still needs a supplemental Medigap plan to pick up his 20% copays and deductibles.

Though the retired environmental geologist is training for his 57th half marathon, he now has a pre-existing condition. Medigap plans in all but four states can and do reject people like him or require prohibitively higher premiums. Diabetes, heart disease, or even a knee replacement can be criteria for exclusion.

A health insurance broker told him no supplemental plan would cover him, and he’d be wasting his time if he applied.

No one told him about this side of MA when he enrolled at age 65. “You hear the pros, but nobody lists the cons.”

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