Brad Dyer

Health insurance can be tricky. From understanding copays and prescription drug coverage to finding covered doctors or simply choosing the health plan that best suits their needs, navigating health insurance can be overwhelming and lead to more questions than answers for many patients.

Particularly for seniors, who often live off of fixed incomes and have specific medical needs, finding the right Medicare Health Plan coverage is critical to living a happy, healthy life. After working in the health insurance industry for over a decade, I have become very familiar with what seniors hope to get from their Medicare Health Plan coverage and the plans that provide them with the best services and care, which is why I am an advocate and proponent of Medicare Advantage as a critical option for seniors.

Amongst an array of health insurance options, Medicare Advantage stands out as an inclusive, adaptable, and, most importantly, financially feasible option for seniors. The program’s value has only become more evident over the years, as we have grown to serve more than 26,000 seniors across the state of Maine.

From dental, vision and hearing aid coverage and Part D prescriptions, to improving access to doctors through telehealth appointments, Medicare Advantage Plans go above and beyond to make seniors feel safe and secure and keep them healthy. It is clear from the many ways Medicare Advantage Plans serve our seniors that the program is a staple when it comes to caring for older Maine residents.

It’s also no wonder that Medicare Advantage Plans are growing in popularity across the state, with 43% of the state’s Medicare beneficiaries — over 150,000 people — currently enrolled in the program. Medicare Advantage Plans must be continually funded so that seniors do not have to face additional challenges and questions surrounding their Medicare Health Plan coverage —especially in a state that is home to the highest percentage of residents age 65 and over in the country.

Sen. Angus King has led bipartisan efforts to protect Medicare Advantage benefits and strengthen the program. Congressman Jared Golden has also been a longtime supporter of the program, as well. Both know this program works, and thus should continue to support it.

The budget plan being passed through Congress right now is supposed to help the American people. But cutting Medicare Advantage Health Plan coverage from the 27 million seniors and disabled individuals who depend on Medicare Advantage would do more harm than good, shifting the financial burden back to seniors, most of whom are on a fixed income.

I have seen the way Medicare Advantage has helped so many seniors in Maine save substantial money, in comparison to original Medicare coupled with a Medicare Supplement and a Part D prescription drug plan. The savings a senior can realize is typically as high as $500-$800 a month per couple.

I know all too well the confusion and frustration that would come and the substantial financial hit that seniors would face to their already limited financial resources. If Congress had the opportunity, as my team of nearly 100 licensed insurance agents across the state of Maine have had, to sit with these seniors and witness the life-changing impact that Medicare Advantage plans can have on the financial status on Maine seniors, they would run away from this attempt to make cuts to Medicare Advantage.

I implore members of Congress, particularly Sen. King, to listen to seniors in Maine and their advocates across the country who are raising this alarm. Seniors cannot afford to have this Medicare Health Plan option stripped away, and certainly cannot afford to lose the substantial savings they are already realizing by being a beneficiary of a Medicare Advantage Plan.

Brad Dyer is the chief operating officer of Farmington-based Senior Planning Center.


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