Did you think we were done talking about health care?

A report came out this week saying that, on average, Medicare Advantage plans across the country had gone up an average of 14.2% over the past year. Although my first response is “yawn”, because I’m used to seeing those kinds of jumps o a regular basis for traditional insurance, Medicare Advantage plans don’t usually go up as fast, only increasing 5.2% last year.

For the uninitiated, Medicare Advantage plans are insurance coverage for seniors that goes above and beyond traditional Medicare coverage, or at least that’s the idea. Instead of just sticking with Medicare, which all seniors qualify for (well, that’s not exactly true, but it’s true enough for the moment), a senior can decide to pay a little bit more for an Advantage plan to hopefully gain coverage for services that Medicare might not pay for, such as foot issues. They may also reduce inpatient deductible amounts that Medicare recipients have to find the money to pay.

Medicare in general has one major rule for coverage, that being that a patient must always be getting better in some fashion. Medicare doesn’t pay for maintenance services. If a patient gets physical therapy coverage, has 10 sessions, then the therapists writes that a patient is as good as they’re going to get, but could maintain mobility with more physical therapy, Medicare won’t cover any more physical therapy, but an Advantage plan might.

Still, even with the government ponying up some of the money for the Advantage plans (oh yeah, since these patients opt into the private plan instead of Medicare, the government pays the insurance company some money to help defray the costs, which is why the plans are attractive to both patients and the insurance company), thus helping to keep the amount seniors have to pay down, seeing that there was such a dramatic increase last year points out just how much health care coverage costs are rising, and why some were hoping for an overall government health plan although, to be truthful, it might not have made much of a difference for seniors.

This is why the debate on overall health care coverage in this country still continues.