Privatizing Medicare: Do insurers even want older customers?

April 06, 2011|By Eileen Ambrose

Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin proposes doing away with the current Medicare system for those under age 55, and replace it with a stipend that will help them buy coverage from private insurers.

Ryan says retirees will be able to choose among private companies that are going to compete for their business under a newly created Medicare exchange.

But Medicare — created five years before Ryan was born, so he can be forgiven for not remembering the history — was created because insurers weren’t interested in covering older Americans who are likely to develop pricey health problems. Medicare was designed to assure that the elderly had access to affordable insurance.

 So, will insurers be rushing to sign on to Ryan’s insurance exchange? Of course, since the 1960s insurers might have become less concerned with profits and more focused on providing the best and affordable coverage possible for elderly Americans. (Yeah, I don’t think so, either.)

 A quick look at quotes from online broker eHealtIinsurance.com indicates the pickings are slim today:

 A Marylander age 67-year-old — the age Ryan proposes Medicare would kick in, instead of 65 — would not be eligible for any medical-only coverage. Nada. Nothing. Zip.

 Not promising.

 

 

 

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