Should-Read: Ann Marie Marciarille: What older people should know about Medicare and Medicaid

Should-Read: Ann Marie Marciarille: What older people should know about Medicare and Medicaid: “Not unlike both the 111th Congress that passed the Affordable Care Act and the 115th Congress that recently amended it with the new federal tax bill, we are often in the dark about our own health care and health insurance systems…

…Whether you think this is a matter of being in good company or a national embarrassment, I can think of no problem greater among our citizenry than health insurance illiteracy in general, and about Medicare and Medicaid, in particular. Many of us, for example, learn about the limits of our own individual health care coverage at the clinic check-in window or in the pharmacy check-out line. These are the wrong venues at which to ask questions and consider the implications of plan and coverage design…. The majority of Americans do not understand that Medicare offers only a limited long-term care benefit…. We generalize about health care and health insurance in ways that may be profoundly inaccurate as well as personally disadvantageous…. We bargain in the dark over both our own future and that of our fellow Americans. Older people are at a particular disadvantage in this “understanding your health insurance” game because older Medicare beneficiaries are often retired, remote from former employers’ human resource departments and they are often reluctant to burden adult children with the task of attempting to decipher coverage….

Traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage? Medicare Part D coverage and, if so, what plan? Medicare Supplemental Insurance and, if so, at what level of coverage and cost? We have made Medicare and Medicaid so complex that the quality of our own understanding of the individual implications of enrollment, and also the debate over various reform proposals are degraded…. The UMKC Consortium for Aging in Community is hosting two public events on Medicare and Medicaid in March, in an effort to create a bridge between health care experts and the community’s need for information…. Ordinary intelligent people ought not be excluded from the current debates over the future of Medicare and Medicaid. Indeed, those very people ought to drive the debate…


Brad DeLong


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