Tuesday, September 18, 2012

21. The Ryan-Wyden Plan for Medicare

New Vice-Presidential candidate Congressman Paul Ryan has presented several plans to
reform Medicare over the years. His latest version is a plan developed by him and Democrat
Senator Ron Wyden called the Ryan-Wyden Plan. Here’s how it works:

First of all, and listen carefully—there are no changes at all in Medicare for 10 years. NO
CURRENT MEDICARE PATIENTS, AND NO ONE THAT IS NOW OVER THE AGE OF 55 WILL HAVE ANY CHANGES IN THEIR MEDICARE BENEFITS. That right there is a significant change from Obamacare. IF these patients want to participate in the Ryan-Wyden plan, they have that
option, but they are not obligated to, and they will NEVER be required to.

Ok, back to the plan. Each year, private insurance companies will submit a bid to the
government outlining what they will charge in premiums for a comprehensive health
insurance policy for persons 65 and over. The second lowest premium cost will determine the
amount of money given to each Medicare patient. Sicker and poorer patients will receive a
higher payment, and bids will vary by region. The Medicare patient then uses that money to
shop for and purchase their own health insurance policy from a private insurer. If they choose
a policy that costs more than the voucher, they pay the difference. If they choose a policy that
costs less, like a high deductible/health savings account plan, or one of the lower premium
plans, the money that’s left over goes into a health savings account for that patient. In other
words, Medicare patients will be guaranteed a voucher that will completely pay for at least 2
different comprehensive health insurance policies.

An article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that this
plan would have premium costs 9% lower than typical Medicare costs—that’s huge!! It will
increase competition, thereby driving down premium costs even more over time, AND it
allows Medicare patients flexibility that they do not currently have.

Now, it’s important to know that the ads that President Obama is running are not factual! His
claims about the Ryan health plan are actually referring to an older version, NOT his newest
Ryan-Wyden plan. I just think it’s pretty pathetic when a sitting President who has easy access
to the facts, misrepresents them so blatantly. As a future Medicare enrollee, I’ll take Ryan-
Wyden any day!

(Note: This commentary is by Dr. Jill Vecchio.)

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