Letter: Let’s Fight to Protect Medicare Advantage

Originally published in Oregon City News 

Former owner of Snap Fitness locations in Oregon City and Canby: Our lawmakers have often highlighted their commitments to seniors

I have always been dedicated to an active lifestyle. As a former Snap Fitness franchise owner, I was thrilled with the opportunity to share my own love of fitness with the community. I also learned that some of my patrons were able to access gym benefits through their insurance plans. Seniors especially, who might otherwise be unable to afford memberships, could access free gym memberships and fitness classes through their Medicare Advantage plans. We know that being active is directly correlated to enhanced quality of life and all Medicare eligible Oregonians can benefit.

After selling the fitness clubs and now helping seniors navigate Medicare insurance options, I have come to an even higher level of appreciation for the value provided by the Medicare Advantage program. While most health care programs tend to focus on drug pricing and treatment costs, Medicare Advantage does more to promote healthy lifestyles and all-around well-being, but also with prescription drug, integrated hearing, dental and vision plans; in-home and companion care; and more. For seniors, who often face additional health challenges, these services are crucial to not only providing reactive care but preventative as well. Medicare Advantage is unlike other health care programs in providing extensive benefits, without high, and in many cases zero premiums.

Particularly for individuals who are unable to afford the high monthly out-of-pocket costs that come with supplemental Medicare coverage, Medicare Advantage offers seniors peace of mind that they will have their needs fully covered and presents them with benefits other plans would not normally provide.

Seniors deserve the best care at the best price. And the best care is not just about getting healthy, it’s about staying healthy. That means promoting a healthy lifestyle through benefits like gym memberships, which promotes healthy habits and encourages a sense of community for seniors. This has been especially significant in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic when many seniors were forced to isolate for months. Now that we are moving back to an in-person world, benefits that allow seniors to rebuild connections with their community are more valuable than ever.

Medicare Advantage is effective, efficient and popular. There are 27 million seniors and those with disabilities, including over 415,000 here in Oregon, who are currently enrolled across the country and have personal stories of how Medicare Advantage helps them stay healthier. With a 94% satisfaction rate, this program continues to deliver results for our vulnerable communities.

A healthy lifestyle is more than just physical. Through Medicare Advantage, seniors can not only access physical health benefits, but the dependability and affordability of the program means they can also feel relieved from the stressors of having to find a healthcare program that provides the coverage they need within their financial means. Medicare Advantage is the only program that provides patients with extensive services at the lowest premiums.

Our lawmakers have often highlighted their commitments to the senior community. To continue supporting the interests of seniors, Congress must now fight for the expansion of Medicare Advantage. Millions more seniors across the country could stand to benefit from the services this program provides.

Russ Harshberger

Happy Valley