Friday, September 20, 2013

IBM Extend Health Medicare change has nothing to do with Obamacare

Corporations started this transistion to outsource health benefit management in 2004 so this change to push us to Extend Health has nothing at all to do with Obamacare.  Some corporations are implying it does and accelerating the change by taking advantage of the fact that the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is in the process of being implemented. There is no connection to ACA and it is rather dishonest to imply there is.  I don't think IBM has implied it.  The truth is corporations just figured out another way to weasel out of promises made to retirees and employees so that they can improve their bottom line and or give out bigger executive bonuses.
Corporations WANT to get out of the business of offering employee benefits.  They started offering generous benefits after World War II to attract new hires because there were government rules prohibiting them from using wages to keep inflation in check. They needed something else to entice prospects because competition for workers was fierce.  Those days are long gone.  Corporations aren't competing for USA employees in most industries.  Even in high tech industries the number of US employees is dismally low because companies can and do source talent from all over the world.  The Ikea model of sourcing furniture from all over the world now applies to people.

There also continues to be a huge amount of misinformation about the ACA impact on Medicare.  As I previously wrote - listening to talking heads about this stuff will make you sick!  There is an article in US News & World Report that tries to help.  I got this from a bulletin that is sent out from the Medicare Rights Center. Here is what they say:

The Facts about the Affordable Care Act and Medicare

This week, US News & World Report published an article on the myths and facts of how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) affects Medicare beneficiaries. According to the article, older adults are often confused about how Medicare works and ACA changes are compounding some of that confusion. The article summarizes five myths about the ACA and Medicare and provides the facts on how the ACA impacts Medicare beneficiaries, both now and going forward.
Medicare is ending.
False. The ACA is not replacing Medicare, and Medicare has grown stronger as a result of the ACA. In fact, the ACA adds eight years to the solvency of Medicare’s Part A Trust Fund, increasing the years of the program’s guaranteed benefits to 2026, 10 years longer than before the ACA.
Seniors on Medicare must buy more health insurance to comply with the ACA.
False. Seniors and people with disabilities will not be required to purchase more health insurance coverage to comply with the ACA. Further, Medicare beneficiaries will not need to purchase health insurance in the new marketplaces.
Medicare beneficiaries will pay more for their medications under [the ACA].
False. While the Part D premium will increase slightly for Medicare beneficiaries with higher incomes (individuals with annual incomes over $85,000 or couples with annual incomes over $170,000), the majority of Medicare beneficiaries have already started paying less for their prescriptions. Over time, the ACA closes the prescription drug coverage gap, or doughnut hole, and according to a recent CMS press release, more than 6 million seniors had saved over $7 billion on prescription drugs at the end of June 2013.
Medicare beneficiaries won’t be able to see their current doctors.
False. Nothing in the ACA expressly changes the doctors that Medicare beneficiaries can see.
Medicare premiums are rising.
False. The ACA has not attributed to the rise in Medicare premiums. In fact, Medicare costs are rising more slowly as a result of provisions in the ACA. Also, according to the most recent Medicare Trustees’ Report, the Medicare Part B premium will remain relatively unchanged between 2013 and 2014, and Medicare Advantage plan premiums as well as Part D premiums are also stable year-to-year generally.

Here is the link to  U.S. News & World Report

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