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Insurance, big business preying on seniors

| July 20, 2007 12:00 AM

To the Editor:

One of the pillars on which conservative philosophy of economics and government is based has long been that private business can always accomplish anything more efficiently than government; thus, privatization is always good.

Private insurance companies demonstrated no interest for years in health insurance for seniors, because it would not be profitable. The federal government assumed the risk and established Medicare for seniors. In 2003 Congress inacted a new provision at the request of big insurance for private insurance plans for seniors. To fund the new program - "Medicare Advantage" - insurance companies convinced Congress to pay them a subsidy payment of a little over 12 percent (about 14 percent in Montana) funded by adding a $2 per month fee to all seniors who remained in traditional Medicare. This all took place quietly and most traditional Medicare consumers are unaware of this new fee.

Medicare Advantage was also provided a great deal of freedom in how they run their program, in contrast to highly structured traditional Medicare. Complaints have been frequent about misrepresentation and other sales practices by agents of companies selling policies under Medicare Advantage.

The obvious question becomes, if business is efficient as compared to government, why does government pay them a subsidy from an added fee on seniors in Medicare? Somehow, I resent my $2 monthly fee to wealthy, high profit insurance companies.

Ray Peck

Helena, MT