REASONABLE CHANGES TO MEDICAREJul 22nd, 2012 | By Sharon Shaw Elrod MSW EdD | Category: Social Security & Medicare
How Should Medicare Be Changed?
There is a lot of discussion across the country about how Medicare should be changed. Many who are not yet Medicare beneficiaries suggest changes that would radically and negatively affect the quality of health care many seniors enjoy. AARP has been conducting a national conversation on Medicare (and Social Security as well). Respondents overwhelmingly support both programs and call for no changes that would have a negative impact on health care for senior citizens.
An interesting post on the Internet recently caught our eye. Jonathan Blum, Director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was interviewed recently by Mike Cuthbert on Prime Time Radio. Blum agrees that some changes need to be made, and discusses them in the video interview.
Changes That Make Sense
- preventive care
- fraud reduction
- streamlining paperwork
will each improve Medicare and reduce costs. These three efforts are already working. Preventive care includes screenings and tests that identify areas of concern that could develop down the road. However, by preventing illness and disease, seniors avoid the massive costs later on in life, thus reducing Medicare costs. That old adage, An Ounce of Prevention is worth a Pound of Cure, still holds today.
Efforts are ongoing to reduce fraud in Medicare. We hear on the news the stories about the big million-dollar fraud scams that are identified. However, fraud is also rampant on a smaller scale. The best way senior citizens can participate in fraud reduction is to carefully review the CMS Explanation of Benefits statements that are sent following any kind of medical care. These statements identify a line-by-line explanation of medical services provided. Reviewing these statements provides seniors an opportunity to question any service they do not understand or believe they did not receive.
Streamlining paperwork always reduces cost, no matter the situation. I recall how much time I used to spend opening bills received in the mail, reviewing them, writing checks to pay them, getting them to the post office. The process usually took several hours each week. Now I get statements online, review them on the computer monitor for accuracy and either pay them then and there (online) or have already set up the account for automatic payment. Takes a few minutes. This kind of streamlining is what we are talking about with Medicare paperwork. Much of it is now automated and that alone has reduced costs. More streamlining is scheduled for implementation, and will continue to reduce Medicare costs.
These three efforts are reasonable changes. They do not negatively affect health care for senior citizens. They make sense and need to be continued.