As Deadline for Medicare Advantage Enrollment Looms, Committee to Examine Obamacare’s Impact on the Program WEDNESDAY

December 2, 2013

Thousands of Seniors and Disabled Americans At Risk For Losing Existing Coverage

“If you like your doctor,” new reports are adding to worry that you may not be able to keep your doctor after all. The president’s broken promise is now becoming a reality for thousands of seniors and disabled Americans who enroll in the Medicare Advantage program. Beneficiaries have until this Saturday, December 7, to enroll in Medicare Advantage for next year, but many are learning just now that, thanks to the health law, they will no longer have access to their doctors next year. The health care law cut more than $700 billion from the nearly insolvent Medicare program, including more than $300 billion from the Medicare Advantage program. As these cuts become fully realized next year, they will end “Medicare as we know it,” and could put the Medicare Advantage program at risk. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health will examine the health law’s impact on Medicare Advantage at a hearing this Wednesday, December 4.  

November 29, 2013

UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Cuts Doctors

Dorathy Senay's doctor had some bad news after her last checkup, but it wasn't about her serious blood disorder called amyloidosis. Her Medicare Advantage managed care plan from UnitedHealthcare/AARP is terminating the doctor's contract Feb. 1.

She is also losing her oncologist at the prestigious Yale Medical Group — the entire 1,200 physician practice was axed.

Senay, 71, of Canterbury, Conn., is among thousands of UnitedHealthcare Medicare members in 10 states whose doctors will be cut from their plan network.

The company is the largest Medicare Advantage insurer in the country, with nearly 3 million members. More than 14 million older or disabled Americans are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, an alternative to traditional Medicare that offers medical and usually drug coverage but requires members to use the plan's network of providers.

"I have a rare incurable disease, and these doctors have saved my life," said Senay. "I am in good hands, and I will not change doctors."

UnitedHealthcare has begun telling members about the network changes. But there is now about one week before the Dec. 7 deadline for choosing new coverage next year. Timing is crucial since once they sign up, most Advantage beneficiaries are locked into their plans for the year. Losing a doctor does not constitute an exception to the rule. Insurers can drop providers any time with 30 days advance notice to members. …

Read the complete story online here.