By Tomas Payne
Contrary to popular opinion, Medicare is not a single payer system. A family on a group medical plan has one medical plan with one card and one monthly payment, often deducted from payroll. A family buying personal healthcare insurance typically gets a single plan to cover the entire family with a single monthly payment.
Medicare is personal. That means that each individual has to get his or her own plan in each individual’s name. In addition, each individual has to sign up for 3 separate plans, unless they sign up for Medicare Advantage. For the first plan, you sign up with Medicare and get Plan A and B (medical and hospitalization) for one monthly premium per person. But that doesn’t cover drugs. So, you have to sign up for a second plan to get drug coverage with its own monthly premium per person. Finally, since Medicare typically pays only 80% with deductibles, most people get a Medicare supplement policy (a third medical plan) to cover those shortfalls, along with another monthly premium per person.
Thus, when a couple goes onto Medicare, they trade in a single medical insurance card for three each or six for the couple. They also get to pay six monthly premiums. Ah, isn’t Medicare great! But this is no single-payer system.
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