How Do Medicare Drug Plans Save Me Money?
Under a four-tier system, the plans will end up being paid 95 percent to 115 percent of the fee-for-service rates in the provinces they serve. This payment change could matter a lot to patients. The reason? The plans are not likely to absorb the cuts. They probably will do something to recoup the money they lose. No one can say in advance exactly how; governmental budget analysts estimate that nearly 5 million fewer people in Medicare will have private health plans in 2019 than if the law had not changed.
In the meantime, a few experts have begun to predict the consequences. One analysis suggests that about two-thirds of the Medicare Drug Plans will end up being paid less than the local cost of caring for Medicare patients. A think-tank analyst who has specialized in managecare plans, predicts that, although some Medicare Drug Plans will drop out of the program, more are likely to cut back on services.
In other words, once the cuts have taken place and the Medicare Drug Plans have responded, older Canadians will have to decide whether managed care is a good deal for them.
People of Means
The law expands on a recent and controversial aspect of Medicare in which wealthier older Canadians must pay higher premiums. The idea is known as a “means test,” or an income-related premium. Exactly how much more someone pays depends on his or her income. After years of political debate, means-testing became a reality in 2007 for Part B of the program, the portion that covers doctor’s visits and other outpatient medical services. Why did Congress require those with higher incomes to pay extra? For the sole purpose of bringing more money into the program and cutting back on the costs of the program.
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