Page 5 - Demo
P. 5

May 2019
    For the better part of the past fifty years healthcare and health insurance have been
both public policy talking points and political lightning rods used to either enthrall or enrage voters.
Often retirees have found them- selves at ground zero in these debates and left anxiously won- dering how such changes, if imple- mented, would impact their own ability to access high quality afford- able healthcare. Remarkably, the confusion has only gotten worse.
The political rhetoric surround- ing healthcare entering the 2020 campaign cycle appears to be at an all-time high. New buzz words like “Medicare for All” have joined old chestnuts such as “Single Payer” and “Socialized Medicine”. And for every candidate espousing the benefits behind such an idea, someone on the opposing politi- cal side is forcefully deriding the proposal as not just bad policy, but “un-American”.
“Unsurprisingly, we’ve received a number of questions from con- cerned members about what these proposals might mean when it comes to the health insurance ben- efits that most Massachusetts public retirees receive,” said Association General Counsel Bill Rehrey. “When you take politics out of it, the answer is that much of what is talked about at the federal level would have lit- tle, if any significant impact on our members’ health insurance.
“With few exceptions, the vast majority of our members receive
health insurance benefits from either the state Group Insurance Commission or from the city or town from which they are retired. We also must keep in mind that most retir- ees age 65 and above are already enrolled in Medicare, with the state, city or town providing supplemen- tal coverage. That dynamic is not likely to change anytime soon.”
Having begun as a talking point used by Senator Bernie Sanders in his 2016 presidential campaign, “Medicare For All” is now viewed as a standard platform issue for most, if not all, of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates. The the- ory behind Sanders’ original point is relatively straightforward: Expand access to the federal Medicare insur- ance program to those under age 65, as well as to non-retirees.
Medicare is a highly popular and well-run health insurance program
that currently covers 44 million people – some 15% of the US pop- ulation. Created in 1968, it is man- aged by the federal government and partners with private sector health insurance companies such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, UniCare, Harvard Pilgrim and Tufts (to name a few popular MA plans).
Those who support the expan- sion of Medicare point to the pro- gram’s lower costs and 51-year track record as reasons why it should be utilized by others. And most can- didates who support the concept have stated that enrollment in the program would only take place on a voluntary basis. In other words, those under 65 would not be forced to enroll in Medicare. It would sim- ply be opened up as an option for those choosing to enroll. In addi- tion, private insurance compa- nies would continue to play an

   3   4   5   6   7