Monday, March 4, 2013
Does It Have To Be So Confusing?
My husband and I have been going through the "Medicare Maze". The couple above could be us, sorting through all the mountains of mail that's been coming to us from various insurance companies and researching the internet to help us decipher it all.
Last week, I found a letter in the Sunday Dialogue section in the New York Times. Here is an excerpt from that letter. If you have already entered the Medicare Maze, you will identify. If you haven't had to deal with it yet, this is what you can look forward to.
"Over the years, Medicare has become more complicated and confusing for the beneficiaries covered by this insurance plan. For example, it now includes four parts, A, B, C and D, each with different yearly deductibles, co-payments and monthly premiums. In addition, beneficiaries are confronted with many other complex and expensive decisions, like whether to buy a Medicare supplement insurance policy as protection against skyrocketing deductibles and co-payments, or which of the many Part D prescription drug plans is the right choice for them. Regrettably, there are no Medicare field offices for a face-to-face interview to help customers make an informed decision."
Another letter compares our Medicare system with that in Canada:
"Canada's Medicare program, phased in at the same time as the American version, shows how we can make Medicare simpler and thriftier, while simultaneously upgrading its coverage. Canada's program covers all Canadians (not just the elderly) under a single program in each province, and bans co-payments and deductibles. Patients can choose any doctor and hospital. Cutting out private insurers and the complexity and fragmentation they impose has simplified paperwork for patients, doctors and hospitals. Administrative costs are roughly half United States levels, saving more than $1,000 per capita."
Now that my husband is retired, we are going to spend a lot more on health care than we did when we had his employer's coverage. For example, last night my husband went to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for me. The cost was $331.00. We were shocked! When we got the same medicine in the past we paid zero.
The moral of my story? If you plan to ever retire, start saving money!!