Monday, December 14, 2009

It's a Medicare "buy in", not a Medicare expansion

Phil Tredway was intrigued when he heard the latest health insurance proposal making the rounds in Congress: letting people buy into Medicare starting at age 55.

"I said, 'Hey, wait a minute, I could get into Medicare. That might be good,'" says Tredway, 61, president of a plastics company in Erie, Pa. "But you don't have any idea what the premiums are going to be."

Indeed, buying into Medicare at 55 — an option that may be added to the Senate's plan to revamp the health care system — might not be such a bargain.

Seeking to break a deadlock between liberals and moderates over a proposed new
government-run insurance plan to compete with private plans, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and other Democrats now want to expand eligibility for Medicare.

Details of the plan remain secret pending analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, which will project its cost to those who might be eligible and the federal government. People ages 55 to 64 who are uninsured or paying high premiums in the individual market likely would be eligible. Most of those with employer-provided coverage would not.

The Senate leadership is selling their "secret" plan as a Medicare expansion, but it's really just a limited, overly expensive buy in for the over 55 uninsured.

If it was a good idea, with popular support, the "details of the plan" would not still "remain secret".

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