Letter: Scam tactics of Medicare Advantage plans should be covered in The Tribune

While I understand that The Salt Lake Tribune must accept advertising from gun stores and health insurance companies to survive during challenging times, I do wish you could share one or two of the numerous articles on the scam tactics of Medicare Advantage plans. The New York Times, Washington Post, Kaiser Health News, NPR, American Hospital Association and dozens of others have written about how these health insurance plans are ripping off American taxpayers.

As a senior, and former health care worker, I know more than I should about this subject.

Seniors may be lured by SilverSneakers dental and vision care but when their cancer treatment is unnecessarily delayed for prior authorizations and their bank accounts drained by co-pays, deductibles and coinsurance, it becomes extremely difficult to switch to traditional Medicare with a Medigap policy.

Medicare Advantage plans are extremely profitable. They game the “risk pools” but targeting healthier seniors (i.e., gym memberships), up-coding (basically embellishing your diagnosis for greater billing) and inappropriate denials of care. The administrative overhead/profits for Medicare Advantage are in the 15-20% range. Traditional Medicare has a 2% overhead.

The Senate Finance Committee majority staff issued a report on Nov. 3 (“Deceptive marketing practices flourish in Medicare Advantage”). The report stated it “found evidence that beneficiaries are being inundated with aggressive marketing tactics as well as false and misleading information.”

Please balance your advertising with some news reporting.

Christine B. Helfrich, Millcreek

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