This time every year, we are inundated on TV, in newspapers and in online advertisements to sign up for a Medicare “Advantage” Plan.
As a practicing physician for 40 years and also a Medicare participant as a patient and doctor, reading the fine print can keep you out of harm’s way.
Medicare “Advantage” Plans are HMOs (health maintenance organizations), with some being very good, while most provide marginal care. Why? Profit.
The government pays HMOs an upfront set amount of money to spend on patients. Their “pot” therefore limits care, so at times medical decision-making is not made by doctors, but instead by business people.
Enticement of “freebies” is given in commercials, but ultimately, when you are critically ill, HMOs might medically fail you or your loved one, even prematurely placing you on hospice end-of-life care. (They save money doing this.)
Yes, “Advantage” plans are cheaper and some seniors understandably can only afford this care. But if you have financial options, read the fine print. Knowing drawbacks might then put you at the “advantage” they advertise.
I can safely say that no congressperson of age in Washington, D.C., is on a Medicare Advantage Plan. Something to think about.
Dr. Gene Dorio