A key issue facing America is health care. The importance only increases for senior citizens. Quality health care is essential to people in their retirement years — and that’s where Medicare Advantage comes in.
Two decades ago, the U.S. Congress brought choices to Medicare, and Medicare Advantage was born. Today, the program includes hundreds of health plans across Florida, from which Medicare Advantage enrollees can have their pick.
Medicare Advantage allows seniors to find coverage that meets their individual needs. The plans are known for low out-of-pocket costs. Most charge no monthly premium, which is helpful to seniors on a tight budget. In fact, 37 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees survive on less than $20,000 per year. There is a good chance most of them couldn’t afford high-quality care without Medicare Advantage.
What does high-quality health care mean, though? Every senior wants to know they can go to the doctor, have a prescription filled, or wind up in the hospital and get the care they need, without financial hardship. That’s only the foundation of great care, however. Wellness also plays a big role, and here Medicare Advantage stands out.
Medicare Advantage includes free health screenings. It encourages seniors to get regular check-ups. There is disease management assistance to help avoid complications from chronic conditions, such as diabetes. Many plans even offer free Silver Sneakers fitness memberships with senior-specific workouts.
There’s a saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and it’s absolutely true. By focusing on preventative care, Medicare Advantage reduces the need for more expensive medical interventions later — and that saves money. In fact, the program is proven to cut down on hospital stays and lower the likelihood of re-admissions.
These are signs Medicare Advantage is working. From care coordination to nurse helplines, Medicare Advantage is continually adding new things to enhance care and lower costs.
The Florida Silver-Haired Legislature is about senior empowerment, and Medicare Advantage is, too. Giving seniors choices and providing them the resources to proactively manage their health is the right answer.
We’re pleased that so many of Florida’s members of Congress — including Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson — agree and consistently fight for Medicare Advantage. Their continued support is vital in ensuring the program remains strong and evolves and expands in a way that benefits the millions of seniors who rely on it.
ERNIE BACH, LARGO
Editor’s note: Ernie Bach is the executive director of the Florida Silver-Haired Legislature.