Trapped in Medicare


August 13, 2014
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A new federal document tells the sorry truth: if you drop Medicare Part A (to protect yourself from rationing, for instance), you’ll be stripped of your social security benefits and forced to reimburse the government:

“…If you get Part A for free, you can’t drop Medicare without also dropping your retiree or disability benefits (Social Security or railroad retirement) and paying back all retirement or disability benefits you’ve received and all costs spent for your care by the Medicare program.”

Amazingly, in January 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the lawsuit brought against this administrative restriction created out of thin air by bureaucrats. A lower court had said whatever you’re entitled to you must participate in.

It’s also illegal to sell insurance to Medicare recipients. Only employer-sponsored coverage is allowed:

“Consistent with the longstanding prohibitions on the sale and issuance of duplicate coverage to Medicare beneficiaries…it is illegal to knowingly sell or issue an Individual [Obamacare] Marketplace Qualified Health Plan (or an individual market policy outside the Marketplace) to a Medicare beneficiary. This prohibition does not apply in the SHOP market [Obamacare small business exchange], or to employer coverage outside of the SHOP market.”

Although it’s illegal for an insurance agent to offer insurance to a Medicare recipient, the Obamacare exchange can’t stop Medicare enrollees from buying Obamacare:

“The FFM [Federally Facilitated Marketplace/federal exchange] application verifies enrollment in Medicare for individuals who have requested financial assistance. However, the FFM systems are not currently set up to prevent Medicare beneficiaries from enrolling in a Qualified Health Plan.”

But if you have Obamacare, the document says after age 65 the exchange will cut off all premium subsidies and cost-sharing to encourage you to rely solely on Medicare.

Medicare is a trap. Congress has written laws, and bureaucrats have written rules, to prevent anyone over age 65 from escaping it. This includes a 1997 federal law that doesn’t allow recipients to pay cash for care denied by Medicare unless physicians forgo all Medicare payments, as per 1998 HHS testimony to Congress:

“Physicians who choose to provide covered services to Medicare beneficiaries under private contracts must "opt out" of the Medicare program for two years. During this two-year period, Medicare does not pay the physician either directly or on a capitated basis for any covered services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. A physician must treat all Medicare beneficiaries in the same way; the physician cannot choose to privately contract with some Medicare beneficiaries but not others, and for some services and not others.”

Medicare has a $43 trillion unfunded liability. The program cannot be sustained without painful and unethical health care rationing to the elderly, or incredible tax increases – or letting people leave the system. But current law prohibits your voluntary exodus unless you pay substantial penalties. It’s time to change that.

No one should be forced onto Medicare. We need to move toward a Medicare-free future for the not yet Medicare-dependent. And Medicare recipients should be free to pay cash for care denied by Medicare. It’s not just the compassionate thing to do; it’s the right thing to do.

Working to create a better way,

Twila Brase,
President and Co-founder