Last week, congressional Democrats proposed a "Medicare for All" legislation that would eliminate all premiums, deductibles, and copays while ensuring free healthcare to "every person living in the United States." The proposition would enable all Americans - not just those 65 and older - into the Medicare program in as soon as two years.
According to supporters, Medicare for All will reduce administrative costs and let Medicare set doctors' fees, hospital budgets, and negotiate drug prices. Read the Benefits Pro article here.
But what does that mean for the everyday insurance agent, if anything? Headlines and continuous speculation will certainly have a presence in the news cycle over the next 21 months until the next presidential election.
Take a sigh of relief courtesy of The Brokerage, Inc. President, Mike Smith. He recently spent time in Washington D.C. conversing with policy makers, think tanks, and elected Congressmen and Congresswomen about the future of private health insurance. He absorbed a general consensus: you have nothing to worry about. The belief is that a Medicare for All system is not on America's horizon (thanks to our 22 trillion dollar debt and foreseeable push back from health professionals willing to accept Medicare for All).
Additionally, Smith was surprised to discover that many of the freshman Congressmen are more in agreement about fixing the existing problem by focusing on ways to reduce the cost of care. There is more bi-partisan support than expected, so many of the headlines can be misleading. Many ideas are being considered that may not be as alluring as Medicare for All such as expanding health saving accounts to include more first dollar coverage, providing more incentives for wellness programs, and other common sense ideas to stabilize the existing Affordable Care Act (ACA) system.
That said, ACA is not going anywhere either. There is a general agreement that the ACA is now properly priced, subsidies are working, and the individual market is more stable than it has been in the past several years.
On the other hand, lawmakers did warn Smith about some possible changes that may gain momentum such as Medicaid expansion and lowering the age of Medicare eligibility but with a full buy in of both Parts A & B (which may cost about $1,100 per month in 2019). Neither of these two items will become reality as long as the Trump administration is in charge.
Here is the bottom line: The Brokerage and your future as a broker are in great shape. Depending on how things go in the next presidential election, things could change if a new President is elected. But for the next three to five years, The Brokerage and independent agents should play a significant role in helping to bring health insurance and Medicare related products to the marketplace with the potential to grow.
As an agent, what can you do right now? Call your Federal Congressman and tell them not to support a government run program. After that, continue to write business and change lives.