Medicare for All or Medicare at 50? Expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, Part 2

We are examining proposals at various stages of the legislative process to expand Medicare and Medicaid healthcare coverage to either provide universal healthcare coverage to all Americans or expand eligibility of individuals currently not covered by the Affordable Health Care Act.

Our last post examined two proposals to expand Medicare and Medicaid by introducing universal health care coverage or allowing individuals to buy a private plan using Medicare and Medicaid efficiencies and cost-savings to Americans.

Elimination of employment-sponsored healthcare plans

The Medicare for All plan envisions eliminating employment-sponsored healthcare plans and replacing it with a universal health insurance program. The only annual out of pocket expense is $200 to assist with prescription drug benefits.

Targeting early retirees

Another bill would allow anyone over 50 to buy-in to Medicare through a private health insurance plan that would offer plan participants cost-sharing benefits like tax credits and lower premiums.

Two other proposals getting attention are sponsored by think tanks, or organizations that provide advice and ideas about solving a political, social, or economic problems. These proposals are trying to catch additional people that are currently left out of the Affordable Care Act or are shut-out of healthcare marketplaces. The main part of both of these proposals is to allow people to buy into government insurance or continue to buy private insurance to cover medical care and treatment not covered by Medicare. These proposals are as follows:

  •        Medicaid Extra for All is a proposal by the Center for American Progress that would only provide health insurance coverage for legal residents through a combination of private and public insurance health coverage options. The adoption of this program would be gradual and take decades to bring all Americans into the health insurance program.
  •        Healthy America, sponsored by the Urban Institute, is a plan that would provide health insurance coverage for 16 million people, not currently covered under the Affordable Healthcare Act. This plan also excludes undocumented persons and is limited to legal U.S. citizens or residents.

These two initiatives will not make healthcare insurance coverage more affordable. Particularly individuals in retirement or with limited income opportunity there is still a significant part of the population that cannot afford health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act and/or whose income precludes them from seeking assistance from Medicaid. If you add individuals age 50 and over who have not retired but are no longer eligible for an employer sponsored healthcare insurance coverage the numbers are bleak. Neither of these private sponsored bills address the concerns of this segment of the American public.

A group that continues to see relief are individuals suffering from chronic illnesses. Options are available to contribute or pay for a majority of the medical care and treatment needed to manage chronic illnesses, like end-stage renal disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Also in the Medicare for All or Medicare and Medicaid buy-in programs, coverage would be expanded to include vision and dental benefits, currently excluded from Medicare.

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