To the Editor,
Like millions of other senior citizens and people with disabilities in the U.S., I have a health insurance plan through the Medicare Advantage program. Because Congress cut $200 billion from the program a few years ago, some Advantage policyholders have seen changes in coverage, ranging from higher out-of-pocket costs to fewer medical providers. In other cases, insurers have left the program altogether, leaving people searching for a new comparable plan. This happened to me.
I had to switch to a new plan, and unfortunately, it has fewer benefit than my previous plan did. I don't have dental coverage anymore, and vision coverage is limited. I can't say for certain, but I believe these cutbacks are due to the funding reductions to Medicare Advantage. If the program has less funding to work with than before, people who rely on these plans for good healthcare will suffer the consequences.
The good thing about my current plan is that there is no premium to pay, which greatly reduces my out-of-pocket expenses and helps me stay within my budget. What worries me, however, is that if Congress made cuts to Medicare Advantage once, what's to stop them from doing it again if budget talks lead in that direction? I've already been through one insurer dropping out of the program, and I would hate to go through it again. It would also be incredibly tough on me if I have to start paying a premium for my current coverage.
Living on a fixed budget means that there isn't room to pay for cost increases. This goes for me and millions of others throughout the country. Congress will only make it more difficult for us to get by if they decide to keep taking money out of the programs we rely on to stay healthy and to keep going. I've already reached out to my congressional delegation for help, imploring them to protect what funding remains for Medicare Advantage. I hope more people will speak out similarly.