It was the most indelible image to emerge from last summer's infamous town hall meetings: an elderly man in Simpsonville, S.C. standing up to tell Congressman Robert Inglis to "keep your government hands off of my Medicare."
Funny and ironic as that statement was, it was also prescient in a way. Though Medicare beneficiaries and agents in the senior market have seen some changes resulting from the reform bill President Obama signed into law, it seems Congress did keep its hands off Medicare for the most part -- at least compared to the comprehensive overhaul in the under-65 market.
The Obama administration delivered on its promise to damage the Medicare Advantage program. Short of a repeal or non-funding by a Republican-controlled Congress, MA plans will face the most change of all Medicare-related programs. But there are opportunities as well. Here are key changes resulting from health care reform:
One achievement to be hailed from health care reform is the closing of the coverage gap, also referred to as the donut hole. The change is not immediate, however. It will be phased in over 10 years with the beneficiary coinsurance rate being gradually phased down from 100 percent to 25 percent by 2020. Beneficiaries who reach the coverage gap in 2010 will receive a $250 rebate.
Unless the regulators place minimum loss ratio requirements on Medicare supplement and other supplemental plans, Medicare supplement agents may be the big winners in all this -- here's why: