Medicare Agency Announces Decreased Payments to Medicare Advantage Insurers in 2010, Says MedicareSupplementPlans.com

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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced cuts in payments to Medicare Advantage insurers of as much as 4.5 percent by the year 2010. The additional costs could be passed along to seniors, says MedicareSupplementPlans.com.

Understanding the differences between Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement plans, also known as Medigap insurance, is important. It's important to help seniors evaluate their needs by comparing the rates and plans of several well-known insurance companies.

In a move that will likely increase costs to seniors for their Medicare Advantage health insurance plans, in April the federal government announced a decrease in the rates it will use to figure Medicare Advantage reimbursements to insurers. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers Medicare and Medicaid, expects those payments to fall by 4 to 4.5 percent next year.

This raises concerns for seniors regarding how the lower rate will affect their private health insurance plans, since lower reimbursements could impact earnings for private insurers and cause them to pass along costs to those they insure. The overall impact could be higher premiums with fewer benefits for those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Alan Weinstock, an insurance broker at http://www.MedicareSupplementPlans.com, recognizes the need for seniors to find the best health care coverage available: "Understanding the differences between Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplement plans, also known as Medigap insurance, is important. It's important to help seniors evaluate their needs by comparing the rates and plans of several well-known insurance companies."

That's exactly what Ira Polak, 70, of Chatsworth, Calif., discovered when he contacted Weinstock. "I especially appreciated his showing my wife and me the plan he felt was best, and not the most expensive."

With Medicare supplement insurance seniors choose their own doctors and hospitals with no referrals for specialists. While there is a monthly premium for Medigap policies, Medicare covers as much as 80 percent of a senior's health care costs and the Medigap plan covers (or supplements) the rest.

With a Medicare Advantage plan seniors typically pay no (or a very low) premium, but the plan becomes the primary insurance. These plans have traditionally required members to see only doctors within a specific network.

Weinstock believes it's important that those 65 and older educate themselves about the various plans available before making a decision and that contacting the brokers at http://www.MedicareSupplementPlans.com will provide seniors with the insurance information they need.

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Alan Weinstock

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