Thursday, August 04, 2016

Don't Get Sick

Now that I'm retired, I'm faced with all the malarkey that goes along with my status as an increasingly senior citizen. Social Security is one part of it, although I have to say that as long as you are a US citizen with well-documented earnings and can do everything online, dealing with Social Security is relatively painless. Unfortunately, if you have a spouse who is a Permanent Resident Alien (green card-holder), he/she must do virtually everything in person at a Social Security office, which is not fun*.

But the worst thing about retirement and advancing age is making sure you are properly cared for health-wise. It is illegal, of course, under the Affordable Care Act** not to have health insurance, but that is not to say that securing such insurance is easy or - despite the name of the law - affordable.

For those of you who have not yet had to worry about all this, here's a cautionary tale ...

First of all, along with Social Security comes Medicare, the federal government's national health insurance plan for the elderly. It has four parts: A, B, C, and D. In order to get "supplemental" health insurance that covers things Medicare won't (such as illness), you must subscribe to parts A and B. This is because all the other supplemental insurers want to bill the government first, and so they want to make sure you're square with the Feds. Part C - Medicare Advantage - involves additional fees and paperwork, and Part D covers Prescription Drugs*** and also has additional fees.

Let's talk about "supplemental" insurance for a minute.

Because the federal government is notoriously cheap and slow about paying doctors who accept Medicare patients, an increasing number of doctors do not accept patients whose only insurance is Medicare ... hence the need for "supplemental" insurance at an additional fee. When I was employed, Agnes and I enjoyed health care under an HMO with which we were very satisfied, and so I contacted that HMO again to try to register for their Medicare Supplement program.

Well ...

Because nothing with health care is ever easy, they sent us a package of forms and explanatory information that the mailman (excuse me ... letter carrier) needed a forklift to deliver. The application form was seven pages long (each page in triplicate), and began by asking me which of nine different programs I wanted to enroll in. This decision required reading 6,839 pages of directions which explained the monthly premium for each program, what it covered and didn't cover, and how much extra co-payment every conceivable sort of doctor's visit would require. I eventually made my selection††, and proceeded to the next six pages of the application, most of which were dedicated to making sure I'd identified any other insurance I already had in addition to Medicare, so that the largest possible number of organizations could share in the billing should I ever get sick.

I then signed my name, attesting that everything I'd put into the application was true and correct, and that if it wasn't, I'd get my ailments back. I mailed the application to the HMO (they did, generously enough, include a postage-free return envelope), and am now waiting for the Green Eyeshade Brigade to render a decision. 

In the meantime, my health plan is simple: don't get sick.

Have a good day. Eat lots of apples. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Had Dante known about this, he'd have made it one of the circles of Hell, along with the DMV (or your state equivalent).

** AKA "Obamacare."

*** Which are almost as expensive as printer ink.

† Just kidding. But it was close.

†† A key component of which involved coin-flipping.


John Hill said...

Don't get sick is the best health care plan!

eViL pOp TaRt said...

It's a shame things have come to that.

Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer said...

I've fallen back on prayer and apples. And Metaucil.

Mike said...

I used to be simple. You went on Medicare and your old work insurance was your backup. Now, your work doesn't want to anything to do with you when you retire. So you enter the supplement zone.