Archived Story

Old-age health coverage confusion [UPDATED]

Published 9:59am Wednesday, January 18, 2012 Updated 11:59am Wednesday, January 18, 2012

It’s beginning to look like, rather than retire and figure out Medicare, I’d rather just work to the grave. For those of you who haven’t reached the age of retirement yet, my advice is: Don’t. Unfortunately, there’s very little choice.

But I am going to retire, sometime this summer, and that means I have to start paying attention to all those flyers I’ve been getting in the mail. Getting stuff in the mail was a lot more fun when I was a younger man. Then I got stuff about not going bald, hiding money so Uncle Sam couldn’t get his hands on it, and erectile disfunction.

Boy, those were the good old days. Everything that comes now urges me to buy into full-time care, or buy those alarm beepers you wear around your neck so if you fall down and cannot get back up, someone will know, or adult diapers. Just one more time, I’d like to see a solicitation to subscribe to the Playboy magazine.

It doesn’t take much inquiring to find another example of why the USA has the highest-priced medical care in the world, and the 19th-worst health. Just what little I’ve learned about Medicare proves how warped and complicated things in the health care field have gotten.

Part A, Part B, Part D. One’s hospital, I think that’s Part A. So far, so good. This should cover hospital care, one would think. Uh uh. The aged are pretty easy to confuse. Confused people are easily preyed upon. Medicare is confusingly complicated, with variables so many-faceted that I understand Congress has a book that is 1,200 pages long just to try and keep it straight.

If indeed the aged are confused and it’s easy to prey upon the confused and Medicare has been made confusing, then only one conclusion can really be logically arrived at: Medicare is obviously designed to prey upon the aged.

Hospital insurance should cover any hospital expenses, right? Wrong. Part A right off the bat divides the calendar year into four parts, that way the $1,200-deductible can be applied four times a year.

Not just once. Four times. This must be one of the reasons that legislators don’t mind us being 23rd in the world at arithmetic.

Let’s not get into the co-pay and restricted duration of stay and the annual 20 percent per occurrence deductible per insured quarter and the per-day limits and a couple of other things I haven’t figured out yet.

This is considered insurance? This is considered socialized medicine? How about we just call it a bald-faced lobbying success by big medicine to sell you a supplemental policy to cover up the gaps they’ve gotten Congress to build into this scheme?

I know, I know. This isn’t very Republican of me, because were I a staunch Republican, I’d get rid of Medicare completely and have us goofy old farts depend on all of our health insurance from these companies, rather than just about half of it. People should be free to do as they want, that’s their line.

So I guess I shouldn’t complain, because it most likely could and will get worse, as we run out of money.

So much for Part A, which is the easy one to figure out. Knowing I couldn’t even begin to figure out Part B and Part D (I have no idea where Part C went; no one seems to talk about it, and that’s worrisome.), I decided to call someone who knows more about this than me. I tried to call The State Prince in Charge of Old Fart Medical Insurance, and I think I got through to him. Just for brevity, I’ll refer to him as the Prince Old Fart.

Hello, I said to the phone, is this Prince Old Fart, who knows about health care for Old Farts?

“Why, yes, yes it is. How fortunate of you to actually get through to me, but we’ll have to hurry, because I’m leaving for the airport shortly.” He sounded smooth. Too smooth.

Oh? Where are you going, I asked?

“Why, lucky me. I’m attending a convention on Old Fart Aging that’s being held in Hawaii.” No wonder he’s in a hurry.

What’s going to be decided there, if you don’t mind me asking?

“I don’t mind. I take it you’re an Old Fart, and that’s why you’re calling?” Now I knew he was going to sell me something.

Yes, I sighed, I’m an Old Fart, and then as a second thought, I asked him if he was an Old Fart too?

“Oh, no, sorry. I’m only 33 years old, but this job is so complicated that only a Young Fart can do it successfully, you know.”

Yes, I know. I can’t tell Part A from Part D, really. Can you help me?

“Oh, sure. It’s quite simple. Part A covers any eventuality concerned with anything that isn’t covered under any other coverage, disregarding what isn’t covered when it isn’t covered, and Part B covers the part of medicine that is covered under events that derive from a concurring coverage as described therein.”

Then he said he had to go. I told him to go ahead.

Maybe his plane will crash.

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