Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Eastpointer

Medicare – Free Health Insurance!

By Richard E. Noble

I will be turning 65 years old in a few months. For the first time in my life I will be eligible for some kind of health insurance. I guess I have always been eligible, I just couldn't afford it. But now because I am 65 I am a candidate for Medicare - "free" health care. Wow, isn't that great? I can't believe it.
But for all you Baby Boomers behind me, I will review what I have found out so far.
First of all Medicare comes in several parts. It is kind of like an alphabet puzzle. There's Part A, Part B, Part C, Part D and possibly some other parts that I am not aware of yet. It seems that part A of the Medicare is the "Free" part. I haven't really read what Part A actually covers but who cares - it's free.
Part B is going to cost me $100 dollars a month. It is also going to cost my wife $100. That's $100 per month ... each. Okay, so that's $200 per month. But what if I don't have $200 per month? Don't worry they will deduct it from my Social Security check. So now our already meager Social Security income will be reduced by $200 per month.
But the $200 per month doesn't cover all my potential medical bills. It only covers 80%. So I need to buy another policy to cover what the Medicare isn't going to pay. This is called a Medigap policy. Medigap policies are varied alphabetically also and they run from A through L.
“A” is the no-frills not much better than nothing category. B is slightly better than A and C is the slightly better than B. B costs more than A and C is a little too much for anybody. After C it is Disney World and Never Never Land.
Any Medicap policy will cost me between $100 and $300 per month. That is $100 to $300 each. My wife will need her own policy. And that is in addition to the $100 each that we are already paying for Part B. But even if you can afford F or J you still won’t be covered for everything. And no matter what you pay this year it can all go up next year. You must also watch out for the way your Medigap policy is rated. It can be community rated, issue rated, or attained age rated. It could cost you big bucks if you don’t find out what these ratings mean. And once you start paying your Medigap insurance company don’t stop. If you stop for more than 63 days you will have to be “reborn”.
But unfortunately a person is still not covered for any drugs that he might need. And drugs involve co-payments and "donut holes." The co-payment means that I still have to pay some of the costs even if I have the insurance. Let's just skip the donut holes for now - it's too complicated. But basically a donut hole means more money that I have to pay even if I have all this insurance.
For me to be insured against drug co-payments and expensive drugs will cost me another $40 to $100 per month. You can’t buy donut hole insurance even if you work at Dunkin’ Donuts.
So, that's another $40 to $100 each.
So where are we here? I need $200 for me and my wife for Part B. I need $200 to $600 for what part B doesn't cover. I need $100 to $200 for co-pays and phenomenal drugs with no donut holes. We need $500 to $1000 per month in order to be covered by Medicare.
Unfortunately I can not afford this "free" insurance any more than I could afford the "free-enterprise" insurance. In fact I don't see much difference between the free insurance and the pay insurance. I can't afford either of them.
But we do have other options. We can pay the $200 per month for Part B and get a special insurance by some insurance company (probably with a main office in China or India) that has teamed up with the U.S. Government and Medicare. They will take over the management of my Medicare Insurance. This is some form of “privatization” thought up by the Bushomanics, I presume. With this special policy I will be covered for some things and not covered for a bunch of other things that I will have to pay "out-of-pocket". If I have any problems I will have to fight this Hong Kong insurance company rather than call my Congressman. This ploy lets my Congressman off the hook. And if I get hospitalized for any length of time I owe somebody $3500 minimum. If my wife and I both get sick at the same time we will owe this person or group $7000 each year.
I have another option though. I could skip the "free" Medicare insurance entirely and keep all of my Social Security check. If I get sick I can die - just like they used to do in the good old days; or I can go to the hospital and tell them to send me a bill. If I don't die from the MRSA infection or Septicemia infection that I catch at the hospital (195,000 people die every year from things they picked up while in the hospital or from medical mistakes), I can get a job – if anyone will hire or pay me in my sick and advanced age - or send them payments from my Social Security check.
In the meantime, we can take the $200 per month that we didn't send to the Government for Part B and go to Biloxi once a year and see if I can win a jackpot. Maybe if I win a jackpot in Biloxi I will have enough money to buy some "free" Medicare insurance. Of course maybe with the fines and penalties for joining late, I won't be able to afford it then either - even with the jackpot money.

Richard E. Noble is a Freelance Writer and has been a resident of Eastpoint for around thirty years. He has authored two books: "A Summer with Charlie" which is currently listed on and "Hobo-ing America" which should be listed on Amazon in the not too distant future. Most recently he completed his first novel "Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" which will be published soon.