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I turn 65 today. I used to teach high school physics. I think I am smart enough. Not many things make me mad. I know how to cope with confusion and chaos. Remember, I was a teacher. Although, the occasional stupid driver gets me worked up at times.

There is one thing in particular that trips my trigger a lot lately. I have received a wagon load of mailings from a gazillion insurance companies offering Medicare plans B, C, R, A, Z, Y, etc. Not only are they very confusing, they all insist on the same thing.

'Buy Me!', 'No No Buy Me', 'We Are The Best For You'.

WTF...Why do we expect our senior citizens to sort through this maze of complexity?

I know, capitalism and private enterprise are the foundation of our economy. I'm married to a smart woman who has three finance degrees. She worked for a major bank many years in wealth management. She teaches a college course in that now. All of my technical questions have been answered and understood.

But, I am still left with the unanswered question above. I don't like being in this situation, nor do I think it is right. Is there a better way that puts the health care and peace of mind of our seniors first and foremost, rather than the bottom line of a corporate profit balance sheet? How is it done in other nations?

This short diary rant is a way to get it off of my chest. I needed to complain. Maybe you do, too. I have spent the better part of my life working hard and following the rules. I have paid my taxes to contribute my share toward security in my later years. Why in hell am I expected to run the gauntlet this year, and each year hereafter, in order to have what I already paid for? The lack of respect for seniors is wrong.

Do I hear any Amens out there?

Poll

Where do you stand on this issue?

8%5 votes
46%27 votes
10%6 votes
32%19 votes
1%1 votes

| 58 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm not letting this get in the way of having... (23+ / 0-)

    a wonderful day with family, friends, good food, and sunshine. After nearly 584 million miles, this isn't going to slow me down.

    Thanks for stopping by...

    Well...I'd rather live in Utopia


    by jim in IA on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 04:34:57 AM PST

  •  Tell me about it (11+ / 0-)

    My wife recently was given power of attorney to manage her Mom's financial affairs due to early-stage Alzheimer's disease on the part of her Mom.

    We've been trying to make sense of what little Medicare documentation we have.  So far, none of it makes sense.  We have a statement from last month -- January 2012 -- with medical charges from April 2010, nearly two years earlier. Is that common? Does Medicare typically take that long to process payments?

    I'll be reaching eligibility age for Medicare in a little less than 15 years, and buddy, I'm not looking forward to it.

    For anyone reading who is Medicare savvy: have you any suggestions on authoritative resources for understanding the ins and outs of Medicare from the beneficiary's perspective?

    •  It has always amazed me how much I cannot (7+ / 0-)

      understand about medicare. I pick a company not on the basis of what it can do for me but for how my provider views it. Seriously. I know that I am gonna be out for the huge deductible. Anybody who thinks medicare is free medicine has not had to deal with it. But it beats having nothing.

      Congress is at 9% approval rating - within the +/- of making herpes more popular than congress! - Webranding

      by glitterscale on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 05:52:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I Don't Know How There Could Exist Such an Author- (6+ / 0-)

      ity within the United States. There's no way for an expert to be independent, free of corruption by the corporations, and be reliably findable and available to the mainstream.

      If you're old enough for medicare then you're old enough to remember what it took to find a safe marijuana dealer.

      Experience is your wisdom.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 05:58:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Have you read the Medicare.gov website? (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hazey, jim in IA, Avila, Mr Robert, Bluefin

      Here is a link to a diary I wrote back in Sept. about what I had learned about Medicare. There are also some helpful links in the comments section.

      Medicare does not typically take that long to process payments - in fact they have to be processed quickly. Is the statement from Medicare or from the provider?

      Best of luck to you and your family in dealing with such a sad situation.

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:17:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ay-MEN. We Have to Do It Both For One of Us and (7+ / 0-)

    for Demented Mom.

    Lemme tell you, I'd rather buy a new mortgage every month than sort through the medicare and private insurance documentation.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 05:55:51 AM PST

  •  Brace yourself, Jim in Ia. (9+ / 0-)

    Now that you are 65, almost daily will you begin to receive reassuring letters about preparing for "your final moment," warnings of ailments of the elderly that you have never heard of before, invitations with free lunches at all the finest retirement villages in Iowa, and correspondence from agencies that look legitimately from Social Security, Medicare but aren't, and all are looking for your money.

    I even got a call from a man wanting to 'protect' me from disreputable groups who want nothing more than fleece the elderly, and all I had to do was give him my SSS# and bank account #.  He got very angry when I asked him is that wasn't what he was trying to do, and yelled DON'T YOU WANT PROTECTION?

    •  We already get lots of mailings (6+ / 0-)

      promising to help us with our investments. COME EAT A STEAK DINNER FOR FREE! Yeah, right. They even send them to ME and I am only 51. And I'm the one mentioned in the diary as having 3 degrees in Finance and a career in investment management.

      Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by Melanie in IA on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:33:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  we need a medicare reality show (7+ / 0-)

    Gather all these stories, compile them, and shove them in the faces of our policy-makers, representatives, and one another.

    Call exploitation and debt slavery whatever you want.

    by jcrit on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:00:40 AM PST

  •  AARP has a good page on this (7+ / 0-)

    right here

    I'm very lucky in that I get all my medicine at the VA. I'm a 100% disabled vet. As such, I get a LOT better deal than medicare.  Evrything free, you can't beat that.
    Everybody gets Plan A. When I turn 65 in 2 years I get the choice of continuing on complete coverage by the  VA for free or getting less coverage for $115 per month plus copays, etc. So its no choice at all for me.
    Good luck with the system, boomers, turns out you would have been better off not dodging the draft after all.

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:02:09 AM PST

  •  The medicare.gov site is great (9+ / 0-)

    for explaining Parts A, B, and D. For Part D (prescription drug), there is an interactive feature which helps you pick out the best Part D plan for you. You can change this plan each year depending on how your needs change.

    Part A is paid for - this is the hospital part. For Part B, you pay a premium - this is the doctor and lab part - and the payment is deducted from your SS check if you are receiving SS. If not, then I assume you pay the government directly. Parts A and B are the government run part of Medicare.

    I did not look at Part C - Medicare Advantage - because I wanted no part of any effort to privatize Medicare so I chose original Medicare (which is Parts A and B).

    For choosing a supplement, the medicare website will help you choose which plan is right for you, but does not help pick out the private insurance company which supplies it. All insurance companies have to offer the same coverage for the same plan. So after you pick out your plan, then you have to choose the company based on rates for your area. All supplemental policies pay if Medicare pays.

    One thing to note in choosing a supplement is that there is a  period (6 months, I believe) that it is a guaranteed issue policy - meaning you do not have to undergo an actuarial process. If you do not get the supplement in that period, then you will have to go through the actuarial process. Likewise, if you ever decide to change companies. So it is important to spend some time looking at the companies.

    It was a daunting process deciding which supplemental company to choose, but the rest was pretty easy using the medicare.gov website.

    And after a year on Medicare, I can say that I am 100% satisfied with everything except the drug benefit. However, the PPACA is remedying the donut hole problem so that is getting better.

    Like many people I was surprised that there was a premium for Part B. The premium is a little over $100 a month and there are subsidies for those making less than a certain amount. I now pay about $250 a month for everything with no deductibles and no copay (except for prescription drugs) which is a huge difference from the $645 a month I paid before for a $5000 deductible policy.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:15:11 AM PST

  •  Health insurance in general (8+ / 0-)

    I also have an advanced degree, and I can't make sense out of the open season health insurance information, nor my medical bills a lot of the time, nor even what is covered.

    When people hear 'choice' in terms of medical coverage, all they think of is, can I keep my doctor? And politicians turn that into 'competing packages,' which offer choices we shouldn't have to make, even if we could understand them.

    There's only one reason for it not to be simple, and it isn't to benefit the patient.

    Every flower that you shatter; we will plant again!

    by merrily1000 on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:23:23 AM PST

  •  Those magical "Medicare cuts" are now real. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jim in IA, hazey, Avila, Sunspots

    As all those over 65 using Medicare know, the "magical" cuts to Medicare/Medicaid over the last 30 years and those in the current Democratic and GOP budgets are real.

    Reality No. 1 is that Medicare coverage costs someone over 65 about $10,000 a year out of pocket if they need any health care or medication.  

    They will pay about $3,000 a year in insurance costs for Medicare and for the various Medigap or Advantage programs necessary.

    Another $4,000 if they need health care or medication.

    So the lie that current Medicare cuts that "only affect health care providers" shows up in the bankrupting costs of the insurance company run health care system that was expanded by recent "reforms".   Medicare needs the $500B taken from it over just the last four years (including the sure to pass cuts in the Democratic and GOP budgets) to restore benefits and eliminate the need for any private insurance for Medicare recipients.  The reimbursements have to be increased to cover health care provider costs (requiring big increases in Medicare benefits) and to increase coverage to 100% of a persons medical and medication needs.

    •  Medicare has always been an 80-20 policy. (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      hazey, jim in IA, VClib, Avila, Mr Robert, Bluefin

      Medigap (supplementals) have always been private insurance unless you are eligible for Medicaid.  The supplementals cover deductibles and copays depending on which plan (not company) you choose.

      Medicare Advantage is private but you certainly don't have to choose it; you can opt for original Medicare. Parts A and B are single payer government issued policies and do not entail any private insurance.

      Part D is a POS but the reforms in the ACA make it much better. Because of Obama, now you pay 50% of brand name drugs during the donut hole instead of 100% and this will be phased so that you will pay 25% (which is what you pay when you are not in the donut hole.)

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:28:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Correct. Medicare has always bankrupted seniors (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jim in IA, Sunspots

        And that is what real Medicare reform would fix.

        People over 65 have the highest medical bills and in the shortest period of time and have limited income, the perfect storm for medical bankruptcy.

        Instead of fixing the problems with Medicare we have had massive cuts to Medicare. The recently passed insurance company assured customer and profits bill diverted $300B from Medicare to paying insurance companies, companies which provide no health care. Meanwhile, primary care MD's are refusing new Medicare patients no matter what their insurance because Medicare reimbursement are below costs.  So much for health care reform.

        The current proposed budget makes further cuts to Medicare, the same dishonest claim that it will not affect benefits but only cuts payments to health care providers. Providers who are already not taking Medicare clients due to inadequate reimbursement.

        Medicare health care reform will be policy that proposes restoring the $500B in cuts over last five years,  coming up with fair reimbursement standards, increasing the Medicare tax to all income not just payroll.

        Medicare reform, refinancing Medicare would be a great campaign issue.  

        •  The Center for Medicare advocacy (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jim in IA, Mr Robert

          disagrees with you concerning benefit cuts. About half the "cuts" are cuts in the extra insurance company payments for Medicare Advantage -which I fully support. In fact this has already reduced my Part B premiums this year. This Bush program was a step toward privatizing Medicare and costs$15 billion a year more than original Medicare - all of which went to insurance companies.

          The rest of the cuts are a reduction in increases, not cuts per se, and do not affect benefits.

          I have had no problems with any doctor refusing Medicare. If they treat illnesses primarily affecting seniors, they have to take Medicare to stay in business.

          But I suggest everyone google the .center for Medicare Advocacy page that says there are no cuts to benefits and goes into detail about the "cuts." since I am on the iPad, I can't link it.

          You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

          by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:46:49 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Facts do agree with Medicare cuts to benefits. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jim in IA

            Facts such as primary care MD's refusing to take new Medicare patients because the reimbursement is to low.

            This is, well, primary because Medicare requires all referrals for Medical treatment be via a primary care MD. But the recent $500B in cuts to Medicare benefits and services did not address that problem.

            That is typical as reimbursements for Medicare/Medicaid have been slashed over the last 30 years.  2009-11 budget cut $300B and the phony health care "reform" that saw huge increases in insurance costs but reductions in health care even to those with "insurance".

            So you will know real reform by it adding $500B to Medicare/Medicaid benefits that were deducted over the last four years.  Once that cuts are restored, primary care,  hospitals, nursing homes and specialist care providers need to have their reimbursements increased.

            A great progressive Democrat policy and platform would be "More Money for Medicare for All Americans".

            •  You are wrong. (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              jim in IA, Mr Robert

              Medicare requires no referrals whatsoever to see any doctor. You can see any doctor who takes Medicare assignment and many who do not but Medicare pays anyway with no referral. Some specialists require referrals themselves, but it is not Medicare, but the physician who requires it.

              The "Doc fix" was included in the payroll tax extension bill passed Friday so doctors will receive the same payments they have been receiving. Yes, it is stupid that every year the Congress has to pass a Doc fix instead of just fixing it once and for all, but they do pass it every year.

              In addition, the PPACA increased benefits for Medicare patients,  including annual physicals and other preventative care benefits.

              I don't know where you are getting your information, but it is incorrect.

              You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

              by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:35:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

                •  I did not say that some doctors are not opting (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  jim in IA, Mr Robert

                  out. I said that if a doctor treats primarily diseases of older people, they have to take Medicare because that is the insurance that older people have.

                  I said there were no referrals required as you said and that the doc fix passed, as it has been every  year. And that benefits have been added by this administration, not taken away. Those are facts.

                  Are you on Medicare? I doubt it.

                  What I do know about you is that you have been here less than 1 month and have posted mostly bash Obama comments and that you claim to be part of the "Professional Left." What profession are you? I doubt seriously that you are a talking head or journalist.

                  You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

                  by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:51:08 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Oh, and talk about intellectual dishonesty. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mr Robert
                  Meanwhile, primary care MD's are refusing new Medicare patients no matter what their insurance because Medicare reimbursement are below costs.  So much for health care reform.
                  The article you link to is from April 2009 - long before healthcare reform was passed - and refers to reports from 2008. But I guess that's Obama's fault because he did not do anything about it before he was elected.

                  You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

                  by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:59:31 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Here is something more recent for you to read. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mr Robert

                  From today Feb 19, 2012

                  A couple of recent studies tried to answer this question, with surprising results. A recent study based on CDC surveys found that a small percentage of doctors were leaving Medicare, but not as many as were dropping private insurance patients. (Almost 93 percent of doctors still accepted new Medicare patients, the survey found, down from 95.5; private fee-for-service acceptance slipped from 97 percent to under 90 percent over the same period, 2005 - 2008.)

                  A recent report by MedPAC, the independent panel that advises Congress on Medicare costs, came to similar conclusions. Not only did patients with private insurance (aged 50 - 64) report more difficulty getting an appointment with a new primary care doctor in 2010 than did Medicare patients, they also were more likely to report having to wait too long for an appointment.

                  (snip)
                   Researchers with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 2009 found that slightly more doctors thought Medicare gave them more autonomy to make decisions and made it easier for them to get the services their patients needed.

                  But there might be a simpler reason. "If you're not going to take Medicare patients in the next two decades and you're not a pediatrician, who are you going to take?" said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and author of the book, The Political Life of Medicare. "Most physicians cannot turn down Medicare patients simply because they're too reliant on [them].

                  "

                  link

                  The number of doctors dropping out increased each year starting in 2006,  but still is less than 1 % of doctors. As you can see above, they are dropping private insurance at a higher rate.

                  Even in Texas where it was reported that doctors were dropping out "in droves" in 2010, there were only about 200 who opted out of Medicare out of 60,000 doctors.

                  You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

                  by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:16:58 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

  •  I will say this - the D plans are only as good as (7+ / 0-)

    the paper they are written on.

    My parents' experience one year: The plans can change from year-to-year, so during open season you have  to check & see if you need to switch to a different plan.  

    My parents take different medicines, so they have to shop the plans and see which ones cover their individual situations best, which results in them having different Plan Ds.

    My dad finds the plan that works best for his meds, signs up.  And in the new year, after he has already signed up, he's informed that his plan will no longer cover one of his medicines.  So he was faced with a much bigger bill for his blood pressure medicine, because the only one, after much trial & error, is no longer covered and is not generic.  

    I do not understand why an insurerer does not have to honor the terms of their coverage as stated during open season.  

    I do not understand why the administration allows this to happen.  But evidently when it comes to health insurance, a contract is not binding.

    Republicans: if they only had a heart.

    by leu2500 on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 06:45:32 AM PST

  •  A general thank you to all the responders... (5+ / 0-)

    They are both encouraging and discouraging. It is good to know I'm not imagining this into a bigger problem because it is my first time dealing with it. Here in Iowa we have a volunteer group that will talk through the logistics of making choices. We met with that rep and got some helpful advice. They are very careful to not advocate any particular plans. But their advice is good.

    Thanks for all of your comments.

    Well...I'd rather live in Utopia


    by jim in IA on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:22:08 AM PST

  •  Oh, and have a very happy birthday, Jim! (5+ / 0-)

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:28:42 AM PST

  •  happy birthday, Jim (4+ / 0-)

    and best wishes for a wonderful year.  ;)  

    Success loves a witness, but failure can't exist without one. - Junot Díaz

    by Avila on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 10:03:31 AM PST

  •  I'll be facing these same choices (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sewaneepat, jim in IA

    quite soon. I turn 65 in July and plan on visiting the Social Security office in early May to sign up for Medicare.

    My mother stayed with traditional (single payer) parts A&B plus a supplemental policy that she obtained through AARP (United Healthcare). When part D came into existence she went with a policy that left here with a small deductible on most of her medications and she never once hit the donut hole although I think she came fairly close.

    Mother decided for herself that she wanted to go with traditional Medicare and she always felt that was the right decision. She had peripheral artery disease (PAD) and had lost both of her legs to the disease before she turned 80. Before losing the legs she had bypass surgery to try and restore the blood flow to her legs, back surgery to relieve pressure on her spinal cord (laminectomy), abdominal surgery, and laser surgery on both eyes (macular disease).

    Before she died last year at 90 years of age, she had claims totaling at least $250,000 and since she had good supplemental coverage she only had to pay a small deductible at the start of each year. Parts A&B covered 80% of all her hospital & doctor expenses and her United Healthcare policy covered the balance every time.

    The hardest decision she had to make was what to do about Part D and I helped her with that by using the tools available at medicare.gov. It was a bit tedious, but it certainly wasn't rocket science.

    As for me, I think I'll be going pretty much the same way mother did. Right now I don't have insurance and I'm looking forward to receiving Medicare.

    Reality No. 1 is that Medicare coverage costs someone over 65 about $10,000 a year out of pocket if they need any health care or medication.  
    All I can say is that certainly wasn't my mother's experience and I can't imagine how someone could end up paying that kind of money if they went with traditional medicare + a supplemental policy + part D coverage.

    Good luck and happy birthday.

    Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. Kin Hubbard

    by Mr Robert on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:46:59 PM PST

    •  I suggest you start doing the research on (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, jim in IA

      supplements and apply before May so that your supplemental is activated in July along with your Parts A and B. you can apply 3 or 4 months in advance for both Medicare and supplementals.

      My experience has been in line with your mother's. My total medical expenses including premiums and drugs was less than $3300. For that I had my welcome to Medicare physical, 2 visits with my GI doc, colonoscopy, exam by cardiologist including an MRI stress test, exam by GYN, mammography, 2 sets of blood tests, bone density test, visit to ENT, flu shot, abdominal CT scan, and prescription drugs and anything else I have forgotten. A pretty damned good deal.

      I have a Plan F supplemental which pays all deductibles and copays and a few other things like extra units of blood, foreign travel coverage, etc. So last year, the only thing I paid for besides my premiums (which all together - Parts B and D and supplemental - were $250/month) and the copay on my drugs. I did not quite get to the donut hole either, but that was because I had some drugs left over from the previous year. This year I will likely hit it for part of the year, but next year my one expensive drug becomes generic (YEA!!!) so I should have a much lower drug cost.

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:18:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the advice (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jim in IA, sewaneepat

        I'll plan on contacting Social Security next month and get down to the business of finding a Supplemental and Part D coverage.

        For the past several years, I've been without insurance and since I don't make a lot of money I qualify for the Patient Assistance Programs offered by three different companies.

        As a result, I receive my expensive BP medication and two different insulins at no charge. And, as I understand it, I could still get those medications at no charge as long as I don't have Part D coverage.

        With Part D coverage I'll have a co-pay and deductible which I currently don't have, but I guess I still need to get the drug coverage because if I don't get it right away I end up paying more on down the road if I decide I need it.

        I'll have to go to Medicare.gov to decide which of the various levels of coverage I want on the Supplemental side, but I do like the idea of not having to deal with co-pays and deductibles so I might go with the Plan F level of coverage.

        Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. Kin Hubbard

        by Mr Robert on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:49:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some of the part D policies have no (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Robert

          deductibles. The others are deductibles of something like $110 or $310. I have an AARP one that is $45 a month with no deductible. But the medicare website will be really helpful for this as you can plug in your drugs and see if they are covered and what the copay is. And there are huge differences. More expensive premiums do not necessarily mean better coverage. Of course, as has been pointed out, they can change their formulary during the course of the year, but I would doubt they would change BP meds or insulin.

          You can tell it was designed by Republicans though as it is terribly convoluted and getting in the donut hole is based on the retail price of the drug (not your copay) but getting out is based on your out of pocket expenses so it is worse than it sound when you first hear about it (and that is bad enough).

          You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

          by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:28:37 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  HBDTY! (4+ / 0-)

    Don't know where you are in IA, but CASI (Center for Active Seniors, Inc. - our agency on aging center) in Davenport has people come in every so often to help people assess their needs and choose the best plan for them.  They have regular appointments and people take the time to help find out what they need and recommend some choices.  

    There was a lot of activity beginning in November.  I'm guessing that's because the window is open for a switch at the end of the year.  Unfortunately, a lot of seniors don't know about the agencies on aging and the kinds of services and support they offer.  

    I might not have known, either, but a good friend talked me into joining, and one of my choir members works for Generations, which is affiliated or is a partner - or something.  She made sure I got vouchers for fresh, locally grown produce at the Farmer's Market last summer.  I always assume that I make too little to survive and too much to qualify, but I've found that it's always worth looking into these programs.

    I haven't had to do the Medicare thing yet, but that's where I'll go if I live long enough to collect.  :-)  I would never, ever, attempt to do it alone.

    -7.62, -7.28 "Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly." -Langston Hughes

    by luckylizard on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 12:51:01 PM PST

    •  Thank you for the advice luckylizard. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert, luckylizard

      Your advice, and that of many others, have been helpful today. There are some very informed people out there ready to help.

      In IA, we have an excellent counseling service called SHIIP. They are all volunteers and well informed about the ins and outs of the system. I'm glad we visited them.

      I am going to be fine with my choices. Thanks for the visit.

      Well...I'd rather live in Utopia


      by jim in IA on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 01:48:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I really like my doctor, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jim in IA

    he doesn't accept insurance of any kind including Medicare. Nevertheless, he has a lot of older patients who are undoubtedly on Medicare. I think it just means that his Medicare patients pay his bills directly and then submit claims to Medicare for reimbursement.

    Does anyone have experience with this particular situation?

    How difficult is it to complete the claim forms for Medicare and the typical supplemental policy? Is it a lot of work? How quickly does Medicare reimburse you for the covered costs?

    Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. Kin Hubbard

    by Mr Robert on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:17:07 PM PST

    •  I have no idea if you can or how hard it is, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      I would assume you only have to submit it to Medicare and they submit it to the supplemental company. At least that is the way it happens for the doctor - he submits only to Medicare and they take care of sending it on to the supplemental.

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 02:34:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Here is a link (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mr Robert

      What is "assignment.."

      claim form

      In regard to my previous answer, it may be only certain supplemental companies that are automatically filed by Medicare. I have Mutual of Omaha and it does not require a separate filing, but I'm not sure about other companies and not sure how that relates to doctors who don't take assignment.

      But here is  a link for ask a question so you could use this to ask Medicare.

      You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

      by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 03:03:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for the links (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sewaneepat

        The claim form doesn't appear to be a big deal and if Medicare coordinates with the supplemental company this looks pretty easy. The only bad part is that my doctor charges me a flat fee of $100 per visit and I suspect that the reimbursement will be far less than that.

        Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. Kin Hubbard

        by Mr Robert on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 04:04:56 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Good luck. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Mr Robert

          I'll be interested in your experience with it all.

          You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

          by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 04:23:28 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My plan is pretty much identical (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            sewaneepat

            to yours from what you've said. I also plan on getting my supplemental and drug policies through AARP like my mother did. I've heard some bad things about United Healthcare concerning individual policies, my mother had very good experience with them. Before she went with the AARP policy she was paying an astronomical amount of money to Blue Cross or Blue Shield (can't recall which one now) and she saved a bundle by switching to AARP's group policy.

            If for some reason things don't work out with my present doc, it won't be easy finding another doc around here because very few of them are taking new patients. Actually, they take new patients they just cherry pick and tell the others to get lost.

            Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. Kin Hubbard

            by Mr Robert on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 04:42:41 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I have Mutual of Omaha for my supplemental. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mr Robert

              it was the least expensive last year when I got on Medicare. Of course, one never knows how much any of them will go up over the years. That's where it's a crap shoot. Because to change supplementals, you have to be approved actuarially.  And then I have  AARP for the Part D. I have heard good things from friends who have the AARP United Healthcare supplementals though.

              So far it has all been wonderful. I bet your experience will be good also.

              On the Medicare website, you can look for providers in your area who take it. I've had no problems with any of my docs taking it - which is different from my experience before Medicare when there were several doctors who did not take my insurance.

              You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

              by sewaneepat on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 05:34:09 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  That's not an option for me (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sewaneepat

                here in Northern California and given my mother's experience with AARP and United Healthcare I'm almost certain that's the way I'll go unless something changes, of course.

                One of the things I notice is that the only plan that is "Community Rated" for my area is the AARP/United Healthcare plan.

                Most of the plans are age rated based on your enrollment date or your current age on a yearly basis. I think that's the kind of plan that my mother started with and all it did was bleed her to death. The premiums went up by a huge amount year after year until she switched over to AARP.

                Honesty pays, but it doesn't seem to pay enough to suit some people. Kin Hubbard

                by Mr Robert on Sun Feb 19, 2012 at 07:04:10 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

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