If you’ve been watching TV, you may have seen advertisements for free healthcare. “Get your health insurance for free!” You may have wondered what they mean by free healthcare, or if it’s even possible. Here’s the secret: there’s no such thing as free healthcare in the United States. You’ll pay for exactly what you’ll get. Let’s take a look at the facts behind the myth of free health insurance.
Medicare Advantage Plans
Many of the commercials are advertising Medicare Advantage Plans as the free health insurance plans they’re referencing. Medicare Advantage Plans are an alternative to Original Medicare. These are plans offered by private insurance companies to replace Medicare. While they have to cover the same things as Medicare Parts A and B. While they may offer bonuses they often severely restrict your freedom. Many doctors’ offices and hospitals don’t accept many Medicare Advantage plans, restricting where you are able to get your care.
The Truth About Free Advantage Plans
Some Medicare Advantage Plans advertised on TV are often called free. They’re called “free” because a lot of these plans may not have premiums outside of your Original Medicare premium. For example, when you get on Medicare Part B, there is a monthly premium that you pay (unless you receive financial assistance). When you instead decide to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan, the premium that you were paying for Medicare Part B then goes to the Medicare Advantage Plan that you choose. You’re still paying for the Advantage plan, but they just say it’s free because it doesn’t cost more than Original Medicare.
You Get What You Pay For
In some Medicare Advantage Plans, you pay as you go. So while it may not cost you anything until you get sick, it may cost you an arm and a leg once you get sick. And when you get sick is when you need your health insurance the most.
Many Medicare Advantage Plans require preauthorization and may not be accepted by some doctors or hospitals. You could be denied physical therapy, may have to pay up to 20% of your chemotherapy, etc. So while it may be “free” and cost you little up front, you won’t be able to get a lot of health services either. Zero dollars for zero results.
The Secret Revealed
The secret is out: there’s no free healthcare. Stop and evaluate what you’re going to get for free. If you’re on a limited income, make sure that you have good healthcare. You especially won’t have the luxury of having out-of-pocket expenses if you have finite resources. You are valuable. Your healthcare is valuable. The care you get is valuable. There’s nothing more important than having the healthcare that you deserve.