Reviewed by Kathy L. Brown

A concise, easy-to-understand guide to Medicare and making the right healthcare choices

David W. Bynon is an experienced healthcare insurance professional and blogger who noticed a troubling trend: many Americans make their retirement health insurance plans based on poorly understood, inadequate, or misleading information. Referencing common questions to his blog, this book aims to rectify that situation.

In a clear, conversational voice, Why Medicare Advantage Plans Are Bad breaks down the core issues around Medicare’s alphabet soup of plans and makes sense of them for the everyday consumer.

Each chapter is organized around a critical Medicare issue, such as “How Does Medicare Advantage Work?” and “How to Take Advantage of Government Assistance Programs.” The material is presented as a series of questions and answers. Chapters open with a key points section (what you will learn) and conclude with a summary of the chapter’s conclusions. The book highlights the basic takeaway facts for each section and includes several real-life examples to make the lessons more memorable. A reader might wish to only read the chapters on issues relevant to them or explore the whole book for a big-picture look at the intricacies of Medicare.

While the guide covers the standard situation of a typical retiree approaching their sixty-fifth birthday, it also provides considerable information for special cases, including veterans, disabled people, Medicaid-eligible retirees, and other low-income individuals.

The book’s style and voice are professional and personal. It speaks directly to the reader in terms of “you” and “I,” as if we are consulting a knowledgeable healthcare insurance advisor.

The word choice and sentence structure make for a clear and simple delivery. Why Medicare Advantage Plans Are Bad takes a complex and dry mass of material and breaks it down into tiny digestible tidbits. “With Original Medicare and a Medigap policy, you pay most of your major medical costs in advance. . . With a Medicare Advantage plan, you pay most of your major medical costs when you use healthcare services.”

Due to the question-and-answer format, overlapping topics, sections devoted to points to be addressed in each chapter, and summaries, material is repeated several times. But that is not a bad thing when trying to learn complex material.

The title of the book, however, doesn’t accurately reflect some of the material within the book. Why Medicare Advantage Plans Are Bad is generally a balanced look at the pros and cons of “original Medicare” (Parts A and B) with and without a supplemental policy (“Medigap”) versus Medicare Advantage plans.

While the book expresses concern that too many people sign up for Medicare Advantage without truly understanding what they are giving up, it also freely admits that Medicare Advantage can be good for certain people. The trick is to determine if the reader is one of those people. The book offers much information to assist with that decision.

The author properly discloses his professional relationship with a health insurance provider and provides a call center number for that agency at the end of each chapter. Other useful phone numbers and links, such as for the Social Security administration, are also provided.

Readers interested in learning about Medicare and other health insurance options for themselves or a family member will find this book useful. It provides much food for thought and teaches the basic concepts one needs to understand the deluge of mailed flyers, TV ads, and even phone calls Americans receive as they approach their sixty-fifth birthday.

Genre: Nonfiction / Healthcare

Print Length: 104 pages


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