Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Republican Medicare Voucher Proposal

I may be lost sometimes, but I'm not stupid about Medicare. The year- 1963.  The location- The Girls' Catholic H.S. of Baltimore (TCHS). The time: after school.  The purpose: discussion of the National Forensics League topic for the year:
Resolved: That Social Security benefits should be extended to include complete medical care.

In other words- I was on the debate team with my good bud, Kathy & we debated Medicare- the current hot Congressional topic.  On a debate team- you practice BOTH sides- makes you more prepared. 

So the current voucher proposal caught my attention; esp. since I'm now 64 (gulp), need to sign up for it, & think about Medigap coverage, and costs for these & prescrition drug coverage.  It's a minefield out there & the cost is not  insignificant.  No, I can't obtain anything from R.I. pension except for a very high-cost limited policy from United Healthcare. Thanks, RI.

Yesterday I'm sitting in a Bel Air vision specialists' office.  As I'm wiling away the time, I can't help but have my attention drawn to the reception where trouble is obviously a-brewing.  An elderly gentlemen is there with his son ( my age).  The older man is being asked for his drivers' license (which he surprisingly has- many don't) & his Medicare card.  Now the trouble starts as he can't find it.  With two people trying to help him- it turns up.  He is amazed because he is quite sure this card is not it.  It's lack of importance to him is noticeable as it's in sad shape.

Look, we don't like to admit it, but as we get older, things like this often happen- mainly because we don't give a damn about all this paper stuff & we forget.  Surprise!  We also acquire an "attitude."

When the medigap, drug coverage stuff came out a number of years ago, I had to help my mother-in-law by doing the research & paperwork for coverage.  Her children were disinterested (!!!), so I foolishly took on the task- simple, I thought.  NOT SO!  Just getting her list of meds was challenging. The gov't site is helpful but it ain't quick or easy or clear.  Don't get me started on going down the Social Security road for disability.  I've got two advanced college degrees & both tasks took DAYS, not minutes.  And the former needs to be done every year.

"Choice" is usually a good thing.  Choice in foods, where we live, what we eat.  Choice in healthcare?  Please.  Yet another area in which I'm supposed to suddenly become an expert?  In life it's often not the questions you ask, it's the questions you don't ask- mainly because you don't have enough expertise or take things for granted.

What I want are benefits, not a Chinese menu.  I plan to stay healthy, but, you know, it won't last forever.  So which plans?  How much to spend?       

Henry Ford had it right when he said you could have his car in any color you wanted- as long as it's black.  Giving me a ? voucher is NOT the same as providing me with benefits.  The public insurance market, frankly, ain't famous for the super job it's done or being crystal clear in its benefits or non-coverages (that's why small print was invented). 

And don't feed me the line about Medicare going broke.  Changes?  Okay.  But don't pretend that there's only one way- YOUR WAY to do it.  I like Sen. Whitehouse's (D-RI) bill to raise the cap on Social Security payroll taxes to include income over $250,000.  This would extend the viability of the program for appx. 25 years.  It's a start.

Think vochers can't happen?  Elect a Republican President & Congress and it may well happen. Just like in schools, but that's a topic for another day.

Please, don't throw me to the wolves.  Give me few choices, but gimme health care. Ill take that Ford. While I still have my mind.

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