Lifeline for Medicare ?

Lifeline for Medicare ?

By Tucker Thompson, Collin County LIVING WELL Magazine

With “baby boomers” turning 65, questions abound about the financial “stability” of Medicare. And Congress “struggles” with renewed focus on finding ways to ensure our funds will last past 2024!

Medicare was introduced in 1966 as a beneficial, fair system to help cover many medical costs incurred by U.S. “senior” citizens. Individuals 65 years or older who’ve contributed a preset percentage of their earned income into the Medicare Trust Fund for at least 10 years are generally eligible for Medicare benefits, along with their spouses.

Health care fraud is estimated to cost our government $60 – $90 billion a year. In Texas alone, a few medical providers including dental clinics, home health care agencies, physicians, hospitals, dentists and even ambulance companies have been found guilty, fined or are under investigation for bilking Medicare and Medicaid out of millions of dollars for “medical services” that were either “medically unnecessary” or never even provided! While we are blessed that the majority of our health care providers are incredibly smart, honest and some of the best in the world, stricter monitoring and enforcement within the Medicare/Medicaid system could save our Trust Fund billions of dollars.

Greece’s fight to keep from bankruptcy has been a stark reminder of the economic disaster that can result from crushing deficits, with underfunded promises like lifetime pensions and free retiree healthcare benefits identified as one of the culprits. Most American companies long ago stopped offering lifetime healthcare benefits and pensions. As our own cities, counties, states and government search for ways to reduce budget deficits and underfunded promises, modifications have been proposed, from eliminating free lifetime healthcare coverage offered to some of our elected officials, changing Medicare eligibility from age 65 to 67, raising the amount of earned income that is subject to the Medicare tax, and/or generally raising income tax rates.

The 2012 “Open Enrollment” period for Medicare Part D – Prescription Drug Plans, Part C, and Advantage Plans is October 15 through December 7, with new coverage effective January 1, 2013. Medicare Supplement plans can be applied for any time during the year.

Tucker Thompson has worked in the insurance field for over 20 years. As a licensed, independent insurance agent, he continues to be an educational speaker on topics related to Medicare.