As more employers embrace Medicare Advantage, some retirees push back

More employers are offering Medicare Advantage benefits to their retired employees, but some retirees have concerns about prior authorization and costs, The New York Times reported March 10. 

Half of employers who offer retirees health benefits do so through Medicare Advantage plans, up from 26 percent in 2017, according to Kaiser Family Foundation. 

Just 13 percent of employers with more than 200 employees offer retirees health benefits, but Medicare Advantage is becoming more popular among those who do. 

On March 9, New York City officials approved switching the city's benefits for retired municipal employees to a Medicare Advantage plan. 

The move was opposed by the NYC Organization of Public Service Retirees, who challenged the Medicare Advantage plan in court. 

In New York City, if retirees opt for traditional Medicare instead of the city's plan,they will have to pay for any supplemental coverage on their own. 

"It really takes away choice," Marilyn Moon, an economist and a former trustee of both Social Security and Medicare, told the Times. "The whole idea of Medicare Advantage was supposed to be to give people more choice, not less."

Retirees also worry extra benefits and lower copays offered when they sign up for employers' Medicare Advantage plans might not continue in the future. 

IBM currently offers its retirees Medicare Advantage plans with much lower copays and deductibles than they would receive in individual plans, the Times reported. 

"There's no guarantee of anything from IBM," a retired IBM employee told the Times. "What if these terms were just to get people to sign up?" 

Read more here. 

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