Comparisons

Obamacare went to the Supreme Court last week.  Obama’s Solicitor General and his assistant were…well, let’s say they did not present their side very well. One description I read on the Internet said they were minor leaguers meeting major league All-Stars. In my opinion it was worse than that.

The conventional wisdom of the pundits and many others is that Obamacare is toast and that it will be declared unconstitutional in its entirety.  I’m not so sure, but the outcome of Obamacare isn’t my primary topic today.

Given the premise that Obamacare is unconstitutional, libs say they’ll just expand medicare to include everyone. Medicare has been in force since the 1960s. Everyone knows it’s constitutional and has no requirement for people to sign up. No Individual Mandate so they say.

Really?

I’m retired and started drawing Social Security in January of last year. I signed up for Medicare and it became effective for me on the 1st of March.  Much as I dislike Medicare, I didn’t have much choice.

I could have refused Medicare.  Yes, I had that right.  If I did, however, I’d also lose my Social Security.  As much as I hate to admit it, my Social Security income is a significant percentage of my fixed income. More than my other sources combined.

Given that, and I’m not alone, I really didn’t have a choice.  My circumstances, like that of most retired Americans, made choosing Medicare an Individual Mandate.

My preference would have been to continue with my health insurance provided by my former employer. Theoretically, I could if I ponied up payments for that insurance.  The monthly bill, however, was more by several hundred dollars than my pension check.

My former employer assumed I would be receiving medicare when I hit 65 and did not provide equal corporate health insurance to retirees once they reach Medicare age.

This year, my options became much more…limited.  I had a gap of several months when my employer healthcare ended and Medicare began.  My wife, also retired, was in the same boat.  We were able to find some month-to-month catastrophic insurance at a reasonable cost, around $400/mth for the two of us.  It was limited, no prescription plan, pay-as-you-go for office visits and office lab-work.

For some, this would be a viable alternative. For us, it was not optimum. We needed a drug plan for our expensive medications, and for blood work done every quarter. For us, as bad as it is, we’re back to Medicare.

I don’t know how long Medicare will be suitable.  If Obamacare remains in force, two current Medicare add-ons, the Advantage Plan, and Supplemental Insurance, will not be allowed.  I and my wife, in a last minute rush, chose an Advantage plan for this year.  Now that I’ve had a chance to do more investigation, we’ll choose a Supplemental plan next year—if we can.

Given existing Medicare law, do we have an Individual Mandate requiring us to choose Medicare?  For us, “Yes.”

Therefore, if retirees have no choice but to sign up for Medicare, that is an Individual Mandate.  If the Individual Mandate portion of Obamacare is not constitutional is not Medicare unconstitutional as well?

That is a very good question that I have no answer.  While it may require me to pay more out-of-pocket, I like Paul Ryan’s plan to move Medicare to a subsidized private health plan. With competition, and much less federal regulation, I’ll bet healthcare for retirees will become much, much better and much, much cheaper for all.

If conservatives win the White House and Congress next fall, let’s reform Medicare by dissolving it and all the existing regulations with it.  Changes are needed and Paul Ryan’s plan is, for me and my wife, a much better option than Medicare as it now exists.

2 thoughts on “Comparisons

  1. I turned 60 last August, and I'm crunching the numbers to see what the future holds.
    I'd really like to retire when I hit 62, but considering the "State of the Union", I doubt if I'll be able to afford it!
    It looks like my parent's generation will be the last to have had the option of a "retirement" where they could live comfortably on their savings and Social Security. I'll probably have to keep working until they wheel me out of the place on a gurney….

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