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Letter: Isn't that what insurance is for?

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As ads everywhere proclaim, it’s Medicare shopping season again!

If you’re shopping, remember that savvy buyers know if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t be tempted by offers of insurance with no out-of-pocket costs, no need for supplementary policies, and expanded coverage, all for the minor inconvenience of having a restricted network of providers instead of having the choice to see any Medicare provider.

What’s not to like? As usual, the devil’s in the details. Ever heard of surprise billing? That’s when you think you’re covered when you go to the hospital, only to find that one or more of the doctors doesn’t accept your insurance.

Similarly, if you have to see specialists for certain conditions and they’re not on the preferred provider list, you pay most or all of the bill. And don’t be surprised if you have to travel great distances to see your doctor and pay for medications that aren’t in the formulary of the drug benefit plan included in the policy.

How else do you think insurance companies make record profits from the unwary who choose Medicare Advantage over traditional Medicare, with a Medigap supplement? It’s all part of the stealth privatization of Medicare, designed to turn Medicare into a cash cow for insurance industry investors.

The wise shopper will choose traditional Medicare over the too-good-to-be-true Medicare “Advantage,” just in case they might actually need to use it for a costly condition. After all, isn’t that what insurance is for?

Rick Staggenborg, M.D.

Health Care for All Oregon — Albany



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