Today Shirley decided we should have medical insurance beyond Medicare. I didn't like the sound of it. I reckoned the government and their co-conspirators, Big Insurance, have likely confused health care programs to a point where most older folks just sign up - give up - after reviewing the vast dizzying of plans. I figured it would be something like trying to figure out those cell phone plans (go ahead! I dare you to tell me you understand yours.)
I was right.
I dutifully went to the Medicare.gov site and spent the better part of four hours studying the various plans. I called and talked to an insurance agent (you know - like talking to the fox about how to safeguard the hen house.) Shirley called a woman in the business office at one of our doctors offices and asked her opinion. This was the woman, I might add, who'd recommended the insurance guy in the first place (thus, I'm thinking she's getting a finder's fee.)
The bottom-line is: I'm even more confused than usual. That's saying a lot.
Let's see? There's regular Medicare, Part A and Part B. Part B cost us $94 each and that's plain - simple - easy to understand. Even I understand it.
There's Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs and it too should be easy. It's not. There's so many different plans offering so many different options and prices that a shyster (oops! I meant lawyer) could figure them out.
There's Medicare Advantage Plans, most of which seem to offer no more than the usual Medicare, only at a higher price.
Then there's Medicare Supplement Insurance, which offers to cover that which Medicare doesn't cover. Sounds like a good deal until you see the rates.
Finally, I read dozens of sites that said that you'd probably die (or at least go broke) if you bought into one of the Medicare Advantage Plans. These sites scared the wits out of me until I realized they were the same people who sold the Advantage Plans. That's right! They sold both the Advantage Plans and the Medicare Supplement Plans and they were pushing one over the other!?! Now why would they do that? Maybe because one plan was far more profitable than the other? That would be my guess.
I also read that Medicare (our fine government) payed these companies on average 16% more for services than they payed providers (our doctors, hospitals, etc.) So it would appear that the health care insurance companies are playing both ends against the middle. Pushing their Medicare Supplement Plans because they're more profitable and, at the same time, pushing the Medicare Advantage Plans because they can pick up an additional 16% gross from our good old government. Man! That's a win-win situation in anyone's book!
We called a few doctor's offices to see if they were disposed to taking:
New Medicare patients.
New Medicare Advantage patients
New Medicare Supplement patients
The unscientific survey concluded that doctors love Medicare Supplement Plans (must have a huge profit margin. Maybe they can bill as they choose,) they will take Medicare patients but only grudgingly (as an affectionate gesture to old codgers I suppose,) and they absolutely will not take Medicare Advantage Plans (they don't seem to care if you have a life-threatening illness or not.)
Now! Where does this all leave me? It leaves me more confused than ever! And, now, I'm mad at Shirley! If she hadn't started all this I wouldn't be sitting here hating the government (well, actually I would be hating the government, but for many other reasons,) hating the medical profession and mad at her. The way I figure it is - we were doing fine just using Medicare when we went to the doctor. Yeah, it cost us a little money but really not that much in the end.
So! Here's the deal! We're gonna stay with Medicare! We're gonna forget about buying into all the hype about supplemental insurance plans and do the best we can.
And who knows? Maybe in the not too distant future our new President will sign into law the new National Health Care Act. Maybe then we'll all get free health care and won't have to worry about things like this.
Who knows? Maybe? NOT!
As I understand President Bush's Medicare plan, it provides for unlimited coverage for anyone over 72 whose parents can pass the physical.