Medicare Advantage has become increasingly popular among beneficiaries, but the program is not perfect and the issue (care for seriously sick beneficiaries) described in this article is one that should concern policy makers and the public.
When Sol Shipotow enrolled in a new Medicare Advantage health plan earlier this year, he expected to keep the doctor who treats his serious eye condition.
“That turned out not to be so,” said Shipotow, 83, who lives in Bensalem, Pa. Shipotow said he had to scramble to get back on a health plan he could afford and that his longtime eye specialist would accept. “You have to really understand your policy,” he said. “I thought it was the same coverage.”
Boosters say that privately run Medicare Advantage plans, which enroll about one-third of all people eligible for Medicare, offer good value. They strive to keep patients healthy by coordinating their medical care through cost-conscious networks of doctors and hospitals. But some critics argue the plans can prove risky for seniors in poor or declining health, or those like Shipotow who need to see specialists, because they often face hurdles getting access. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office, the auditing arm of Congress, adds new weight to criticisms that some health plans may leave sicker patients worse off.
– Kaiser Health News