Medicare-for-All, What Is It?

Breaking Down Medicare-For-All

If some politicians and health care reform advocates have their way, Medicare, a federal health insurance program for older adults, would expand to cover people of all ages.

The proposed “Medicare-for-All” plan would be run by the federal government and pay health care providers at a set rate for services. The new system would eliminate the need for patients to pay premiums, co-pays, deductibles, and surprise bills for out-of-network services,

What’s more, some versions of Medicare-for-All eliminates health care plans currently offered by private insurance companies and the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Many believe expanding the 54-year-old Medicare program would provide more Americans with affordable health insurance; and, at the same time, overhaul the nation’s health care system.

Current Medicare Coverage is Limited

Medicare is a tax-funded health insurance program that covers people 65 years old and older and people receiving Social Security Disability Insurance.

While Medicare is designed to contain medical costs for older adults, the program does not pay for certain types of treatment or examinations. This means that seniors pay significant out-of-pocket costs for services such as:

  • Dental exams
  • Vision exams
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Mental health care

The proposed Medicare-for-All plan would not only cover these services but services Medicare currently pays for, such as doctor office visits and hospital stays.

While most people are not opposed to providing health care coverage for more Americans, one of many contentious issues surrounding Medicare-for-All is how to fund the proposed health insurance system.

Medicare-for-All Funding to Come from Taxes

Several Medicare-for-All bills and universal health care-type proposals have been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate in recent years. Some proposals call for funding to come from new taxes and the taxes currently used to pay for Medicare.

Medicare-for-All critics claim that lower- and middle-class taxpayers would end up bearing the brunt of paying additional taxes for the expanded health insurance program.

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and 14 other Democratic senators introduced a Medicare-for-All bill in April 2019. Under this version, the program would be funded, in part, with taxes on the middle-class families (with an exemption on the first $29,000 of income), the wealthy, employers, and large corporations.

Another Democratic presidential candidate, Elizabeth Warren, revealed a plan to finance Medicare-for-All by taxing the wealthy and large corporations, decrease military spending, and cracking down on tax evasion and fraud.

As lawmakers on Capitol Hill and 2020 presidential candidates continue the funding debate over Medicare-for-All, seniors are struggling to pay for certain costly health care services that Medicare does not cover.

Seniors Pass on Getting Services Not Covered by Medicare

Medicare beneficiaries pay out-of-pocket for dental, vision and hearing costs that Medicare does not cover. However, Medicare Advantage Plans, called Medicare Part C and provided by private health insurers, offer benefits like routine dental exams, hearing tests and hearing aids, and eye examinations.

Seniors who do not have Medicare Part C pay out-of-pocket for exams or pass on getting services because they cannot afford to pay for them.

A 2018 study conducted by the Commonwealth Fund showed how Medicare beneficiaries are not receiving necessary care because of the high, out-of-pocket costs for those services. The study found that:

  • 75 percent of Medicare recipients who needed hearing aids did not have one
  • 70 percent of Medicare beneficiaries had dental problems but had not gone to a dentist within the past year
  • 43 percent of Medicare recipients with vision problems had not gone to get their eyes checked within the past year.

It is more likely than not that hearing, dental and vision problems older adults have now will worsen over time. These issues, along with chronic health problems, might decrease the quality of life of Medicare beneficiaries.

Seniors Have Affordable Options for Services Beyond Medicare

Not all services are out of reach for Medicare recipients. For seniors who need help with routine activities, such as grooming, dressing, and feeding, affordable in-home care services are available.

In-home care agencies, such as FCP Live-In, offer services for older adults who want to live independently in their home or a familiar environment but need daily assistance.

For more than two decades, FCP Live-In’s trained caregivers have helped older adults with bathing, dressing, toileting and other types of personal care. The agency’s in-home caregivers also prepare meals, do light housekeeping chores, and provide transportation to medical appointments, among other things.

The type of non-medical support provided by FCP Live-In is not as costly as services provided by an assisted living or a nursing home. More importantly, a variety of financial options are available to pay for in-home care.

The financial options for Medicare-For-All are still up in the air since the House and the Senate have yet to pass any versions of bills to expand Medicare. In the meantime, older adults will continue to pay out of pocket for—or do without—health care services that Medicare does not cover.

To learn more about FCP Live-In, contact the in-home care agency at 1 (866) 559-9492.

Link Sources:
Link: https://www.newsweek.com/medicare-medicaid-elderly-vision-hearing-2020-1465459
Link: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/download/options-to-finance-medicare-for-all?inline=file
Link: https://prospect.org/health/warrens-medicare-for-all-plan-includes-no-new-taxes-on-the-middle-class/
Link: https://www.commonwealthfund.org/publications/issue-briefs/2018/jan/how-medicare-could-provide-dental-vision-and-hearing-care

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