Medicare and Mediscare Advantage: The city’s new health plan is a good deal for retirees

·2 min read

Acting Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Lyle Frank was onto something pointing to flaws in the city’s roll-out of its new health-care plan for 250,000 retirees, NYC Medicare Advantage Plus, and freezing an Oct. 31 deadline, labeling it “irrational, and thus arbitrary and capricious.” Retirees actually have until the end of the year to opt to keep their current coverage and pay $191 a month if they don’t want to automatically get enrolled into the new arrangement on Jan. 1.

With that enormous caveat, retirees must understand: The new plan, carefully negotiated by the city and the unions, is an improvement. Coverage is just as generous as the old; in fact, it’s better in many ways. Worries that people will get turned away from their doctors or incur big, bankrupting bills are being spread by fearmongers. And it’ll all cost the municipal government $3 billion less over the next five years, because Uncle Sam, not the people of the five boroughs, will pick up the tab.

Yes, it would have been nice if taxpayers could’ve reaped something in the bargain; we have been complaining for years about how this spending is eating up ever more of the city budget. Instead, the sum will get plowed back into a fund controlled by the unions and the city. But that is good, not bad, for retirees.

The vast majority of the confusion comes from people who heard “Medicare Advantage” and thought that meant they were getting something like Joe Namath hawks on TV. Boasts about big savings suggested benefits were getting slashed. Nope: This is a custom-brokered deal that won’t diminish what retirees get. Out-of-pocket spending is capped.

Regrettably, even retired cop Eric Adams has been among the ill-informed; rather than spreading information, he’s fanned flames that the unions were party to a “bait and switch.” They weren’t.

Alas, perception can quickly become reality. With the judge nixing the Halloween trick-or-treat ultimatum, the city and the unions must use the extra time to do a far better job of explaining the changes.

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