The shrill one is at it again
, and the paywall they put around him ain't containing it:
Registration for Medicare's new prescription drug benefit starts next week. [...]
At first, the benefit will look like a normal insurance plan, with a deductible and co-payments.
But if your cumulative drug expenses reach $2,250, a very strange thing will happen: you'll suddenly be on your own. The Medicare benefit won't kick in again unless your costs reach $5,100. This gap in coverage has come to be known as the "doughnut hole."
One way to see the bizarre effect of this hole is to notice that if you are a retiree and spend $2,000 on drugs next year, Medicare will cover 66 percent of your expenses. But if you spend $5,000 - which means that you're much more likely to need help paying those expenses - Medicare will cover only 30 percent of your bills.
I must be out of it here in my 30's, but this really surprised me. Read on, it gets much, much worse...
A study in the July/August issue of Health Affairs points out that this will place many retirees on a financial "roller coaster."
People with high drug costs will have relatively low out-of-pocket expenses for part of the year - say, until next summer. Then, suddenly, they'll enter the doughnut hole, and their personal expenses will soar. And because the same people tend to have high drug costs year after year, the roller-coaster ride will repeat in 2007.
How will people respond when their out-of-pocket costs surge? The Health Affairs article argues, based on experience from H.M.O. plans with caps on drug benefits, that it's likely "some beneficiaries will cut back even essential medications while in the doughnut hole." In other words, this doughnut will make some people sick, and for some people it will be deadly.
OK, so that's that "Medi-Gap" thing my mom talks about. Sounds addressable in some way, right?
Oh but wait, ye of too much faith:
The smart thing to do, for those who could afford it, would be to buy supplemental insurance that would cover the doughnut hole. But guess what: the bill that established the drug benefit specifically prohibits you from buying insurance to cover the gap. That's why many retirees who already have prescription drug insurance are being advised not to sign up for the Medicare benefit.
I am speechless. I cannot believe this. Aren't these people supposed to be in the pockets of the insurance companies and the drug companies? Won't that condition actually hurt the insurance companies and the drug companies (not to mention kill off a few hundred thousand elderly per annum)???
This Bushworld is absolutely insane.
Their purpose was purely political: to be able to say that President Bush had honored his 2000 campaign promise to provide prescription drug coverage by passing a drug bill, any drug bill.
Once you recognize that the drug benefit is a purely political exercise that wasn't supposed to serve its ostensible purpose, the absurdities in the program make sense. For example, the bill offers generous coverage to people with low drug costs, who have the least need for help, so lots of people will get small checks in the mail and think they're being treated well.
Meanwhile, the people who are actually likely to need a lot of help paying their drug expenses were deliberately offered a very poor benefit.
Really, this program is serving no one in sight. It pure & simple elitist, sociopathic governance: Kill the poor, sick and weak.
Someone please explain what is actually going on here. This is actually frightening. I don't think I can rely on the old "never attribute to malice what can be explained by simple incompetence" on this one.