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’Medigap’ policies may be on the table in Congressional debate

CT Mirror, August 15, 2011

On July 1, a Washington health advocacy group issued a dire warning about a small but significant Medicare provision on the table in the debt talks. "Under some of the proposals being discussed, seniors could pay as much as $7,500 per year out of pocket for medical care," read the alert from the Partnership to Protect Medigap. That figure may be inflated. And the group that sent the missive is linked to Washington's major insurance lobby, America's Health Insurance Plans. But the issue that AHIP has flagged is real. It could be front-and-center in the coming months, as the newly-appointed "super committee" on debt reduction gets to work. And insurance companies aren't the only ones fretting as that panel looks for new savings in entitlement programs such as Medicare. At issue, in this particular case, are so-called "Medigap" policies, supplemental insurance plans that many seniors purchase to cover healthcare costs that Medicare does not. According to one recent report, about one in six Medicare beneficiaries--or more than 7 million elderly Americans--had purchased some kind of supplemental private insurance in 2008.