New bill introduced to protect seniors on Medicare

A NEW BILL introduced by a state lawmaker would protect seniors on Medicare, preventing them from being denied supplemental coverage or from being charged higher rates for preexisting conditions. / PBN FILE PHOTO/CASSIUS SHUMAN

PROVIDENCE – A new bill introduced by a state lawmaker would protect seniors on Medicare, preventing them from being denied supplemental coverage or from being charged higher rates for preexisting conditions.

Individuals on Medicare can buy supplement plans, known as Medigap, to cover costs such as copays, coinsurance and deductibles. Seniors must sign up for Medigap during an open enrollment period; if they do not, they may be subject to a “complex underwriting process,” or they may be denied due to preexisting conditions.

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The legislation introduced by Sen. Valerie J. Lawson, D-East Providence, would prohibit insurers from subjecting seniors to this underwriting process, denying them coverage or charging higher rates due to preexisting conditions. It would provide all Medicare recipients applying for a Medicare supplement plan guaranteed issue rights.

“Our seniors worked their whole lives and should now be able to access the health care they need,” Lawson said. “Profitable companies shouldn’t be denying people coverage based on health issues outside of their control. It’s just wrong.”

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Other states, including Massachusetts and Connecticut, have similar legislation.

Claudia Chiappa is a PBN staff writer. You may contact her at Chiappa@PBN.com. 

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