When President Obama signed this act into law, the headlines screamed, “Physicians get Medicare increase in payments!” It is a good example of why it is important to really pay attention to the news. The true story is that the doctors did not get an increase; they actually did not a get 21% decrease!
Like all things government, this Act is a hodge-podge of various interests and determinations and contains some hidden notes that could prove to be problems. For example, what is meant by “allow broader use of Medicare data for “transparency and quality improvement purposes.”?
One side note to that phrase is the edict to keep Social Security numbers off Medicare cards. Since the Medicare ID number is a social security number followed by a letter, this calls for a total change in how Medicare is identified. It is estimated that about 50 million people are enrolled in Medicare, with thousands more signing up every day. That is a bunch of Medicare cards that will all have to be changed to comply with this new law!
Another byproduct of this law is Medicare Supplement Plan F sales. Exactly what that means for insurance companies remains to be seen. In recent years Plan G has been added to the inventory. The only difference in Plan F and Plan G coverage is that Plan G does not pay the annual Medicare part B deductible which is $147 right now.
This seemingly innocent phrase from the law, “Sec. 401. Limitation on certain medigap policies for newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries.”(sec) is where the coverage for Plan F is changed. Simple question, “Why does Medicare object to insurance companies paying the Part B deductible?”
The Children’s Health Insurance Program was pushed into this primarily Medicare Act and is a very small portion of it. Was it put in there to make the law more politically popular?
If you choose to read this yourself, you can find it on the website https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2/text#toc-HD9EB8AC02B354CAFB5E6FA5BDB9C0BB3.
Your eyes will glaze over long before you can complete the missive. There are lots of hidden repercussions in this law and it probably fits Nancy Pelosi’s comment, “You have to pass it to know what is in it!”
Beginning in 2016, Medicare recipients can elect to receive electronic statements. Keeping up with technology, but since the government in general is not establishing much credibility in the electronic security department; some may question the wisdom of this.
Every year insurance agents and brokers go through extensive training on new Medicare provisions. This year will be intense as the insurance companies race to make sure their information is accurate and compliant with the provisions contained in this law.
Keep an eye out for future information on this bill. There are 12 other bills that are related to this Act, so the drama just goes on and on!