A few years ago Dick Armey, a former Republican congressman from Texas and leader in the tea party movement, led a handful of senior citizens in a lawsuit against the federal government over healthcare benefits. It wasn’t exactly what you think.
Armey and his supporters sued to overturn a federal law that mandates automatic Medicare coverage for all seniors receiving Social Security benefits. Armey maintained that his private insurance company restricted some benefits because of Medicare coverage. An appeals court rejected Armey’s plea,ruling that the law, as written, was clear on his required eligibility for Medicare.
One could not blame Armey for wanting to be free of Medicare, however, if his rationale was that the “market,” so to speak, was just as crowded and confusing as that for individual buyers hunting for private insurance. The Ledger’s Marilyn Meyer’s recent coverage of one group’s effort to help Polk County seniors find a Medicare plan that fits their needs helped explain why.
It may have surprised many readers to learn that Medicare offers its recipients in Polk County roughly 50 different options for healthcare insurance coverage. That’s about the same number of options a Polk County resident might find in obtaining insurance through the federal exchange for Florida under the Affordable Care Act.
The salient point of The Ledger’s article is that Medicare insurers, as in the private market, can come and go — and even if they stay, they can revise plan features and prices from year to year. Hence, Medicare recipients must stay current.
Therefore, we think it is a good idea for Polk County seniors to review their coverage to check for changes and to determine if they can find a better offer during this open enrollment period, which closes Dec. 7.
And while many among us may be very savvy when it comes to computers — Medicare enrollment choices must be made online — or insurance, anyone who might harbor doubts about their ability to navigate an admittedly complicated segment of our economy would be wise to seek the help of independent advisers.