October 15, 2010 > HealthCare... Who Cares?
HealthCare... Who Cares?
By J. Dennis Wolfe
How many times have you heard the phrase, "healthcare reform"? I bet you think you know what it means? Like every profession, words mean things and so let's begin this column with correct phrasing. Henceforth, we are going to talk about "healthcare cost-delivery reform." I will discuss the difference in my next column for those who are interested.
It is important to understand that what Congress passed and our President signed had absolutely nothing to do with healthcare cost-delivery reform, which is what is still sorely needed. It was, however, "healthcare reform". What was passed and signed into law is indeed going to change your life, not only in how you access the system to receive healthcare, but for how the care is paid (the sources of the money).
Because there is so much to cover on this subject, it can be hard to put your arms around everything. Therefore, throughout this series of columns, I will give you what I will simply call "Action Items" like this one.
If you do not have a primary care physician because you have been healthy (so far), or are so young that you are presently immortal (that will change, believe me), then find one.
The reason I mention this is because as the new law is phased in, the amount of money paid to physicians by governmentally-funded programs is already being cut and as insurers pull out of the market that reimburse medical expenses, the number of physicians in the marketplace will dramatically decrease. Older doctors are going to retire and there will not be enough new physicians being trained here in America to replace them. I understand why many of you won't believe me. So, ask around; look around!
The largest group of people who are going to be the most impacted by this new legislation are our senior citizens - anyone over Age 65, now and in the near future! The estimated One Trillion Dollar budget cuts in Medicare contrary to all the rhetoric from Washington are not likely to be restored. Less money to pay for medical services means less services! This is not rocket science!
I fully expect the monthly premiums that our senior citizens are paying for Part B Medicare are going to rise faster and higher than previously thought. The restrictions on the extremely popular and badly misunderstood Medicare Advantage program products offered by all the major insurers will cause it to be one of the first programs to feel the negative impact of "healthcare reform", and well over 20% of all Seniors are covered through Medicare Advantage.
As Medicare Advantage loses its competitive edge and disappears from the marketplace, Seniors will have no choice but to return to the traditional Medicare Supplements, which in turn will lead to large increases in premiums as claims will dramatically rise. Supply and Demand.
There is one major significant piece of good news in all of this. You are now more aware of the system and want to learn more so you can make decisions based on knowledge and credible information. That is what the focus of this column is going to be.
In future columns I will be discussing Medicare programs, group plans, grandfathered company plans, COBRA, CalCOBRA and, best of all, boards and panels created in the new law that will define what services you will receive. Stay healthy. Stay tuned. Get involved. Learn what is being done. Your life now does indeed depend upon it.
Dennis Wolfe is the author of a book discussing healthcare cost-delivery reform, published in 1991, that detailed the problems that we face today and what needed to be done. He is a frequent guest on radio shows all over the country. In 1976 he founded Wolfe Insurance Services, specializing in employee benefits. For his creation in 1977 of what we now call Community Health Fairs he won the nationally-prestigious Dublin Award. In early 2010 Dennis founded Health Care Claims Consulting, LLC. It is a website-based business of experts across the country designed to help people obtain proper health care services and resolve claims issues. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and is available for speaking engagements.