Grandfather First Refused Medicare Because of Scare Tactics and Misinformation

Affordable Care

If the system is too busy or too slow, do exactly what you do with online banking or at other online sites — wait a while and try again.

It’s funny how changes in health care policy seem to generate anxiety, anger, and all sorts of misinformation in the United States. Well, actually it’s not so funny.

How is it that so few people can scare so many others when it comes to keeping many more people healthy? But that describes what has happened with the Affordable Care Act. A small number of fear mongers have frightened many others — often citizens who can benefit from better access to health care.

My husband’s grandfather, a small-town merchant, refused Medicare for years, because of the anxiety, anger, and misinformation associated with the passage of the laws. He would have benefitted if he had signed up in a timely manner for the Medicare coverage that he was entitled to receive. In those days he would have needed to get the forms, probably lengthy ones, fill in the information, mail them, and wait around for several weeks — not like today when, once the IT experts tweak the computer systems, people will be able to sign up in a day or two.

Continue reading

Thoughts on Medicare Changes at the Over 65 Blog

Over65blog

Check out the Over 65 blog.

The Over 65 Blog is a part of The Hastings Centeran independent, nonpartisan, and nonprofit bioethics research institute that focuses on ethical issues in the areas of health, medicine, and the environment. The Center concentrates on and produces research about making decisions at the end of life, public health priorities, and the role of emerging technologies when it comes to medical care and aging.

The Over 65 Blog examines issues and problems that affect members  of the over-65 generation, and I’ve started to follow it after learning about it on Facebook from Jane Gross, who is on the organization’s board.

Those of us who are adult children and also approaching retirement are watching the Medicare debate with a combination of anxiety, frustration, and resignation. A recent post on the over 65 Blog, The Medicare Showdown, by Daniel Callahan, offers some sobering thoughts about what it may take for Medicare to continue to operate effectively.

Interesting Quotes

  • Quite apart from the long-term deficit crisis, Medicare is in deep trouble: unsustainable in the long run and a burden already. Much higher taxes, especially for the rich but even for the middle class, will be necessary to soften the impact of benefit cuts.
  • The president’s proposal contains a gradual increase of benefits after age 76 to offset inadequate retirement income, a far-sighted and welcome idea.

Continue reading

Colonoscopies for Our Elder Parents? Maybe Not

From the Adam Encyclopedia at MedlinePlus.

From the Adam Encyclopedia at MedlinePlus.

I just finished reading Too Many Colonoscopies for the Elderly, a short article that appeared on the New Old Age blog at the New York Times. The March 12, 2013 post, by New Old Age journalist and editor Paula Span, explains how the United States Preventive Task Force recommends that routine screening colonoscopies not be performed on people older than age 75. It brought back some dramatic memories for my husband and me.

A few years ago we helped my husband’s 89-year-old mother go through the colonoscopy preparations and the procedure itself. She was exceedingly healthy and still six months away from a serious stroke.

Spending a day on liquids was difficult for the small woman — she was dizzy during the entire day and exceedingly so by the evening. Then she proceeded with the preparation, drinking the gallon of liquid and going through the various stages of diarrhea. Added to the dizziness was nausea, and she felt worse and worse. Despite her uncomplaining nature, getting through the final hours and procedure was a huge challenge.

Continue reading

More on Rising Medicare Part D Drug Premiums

Check out this interactive plan finder.

Take a few minutes to read As Medicare Drug Premiums Soar It’s Time to Shop Around, another informative article about prescription drug plan open season.

This October 2, 2012 Reuters article by Mark Miller goes into considerable detail about the rising premiums and explains what steps Medicare beneficiaries can take to shop around.

Best Quote from the Article: Premiums for many popular Medicare prescription drug plans will soar next year – but seniors don’t have to take the rate hikes lying down.

It goes hand-in-hand with the other article I reviewed in my September 30, 2012 blog post, Medicare Prescription Drug Plan: 2013 Info.

Medicare beneficiaries and their adult children can use these two articles, together with the Plan Finder at Medicare.gov. At the top right on  the page is a button that takes visitors to an online demonstration of the Plan Finder.

Medicare Prescription Drug Plans: Basic Info for 2013

It’s that time of year again — the open season when Medicare beneficiaries keep, change, or make modifications to their prescription drug benefit plans (Part D).

A September 25th Associated Press (AP) article, Report: Double-Digit Premium Hikes Seen in 7 of 10 Top Medicare Prescription Drug Plans appeared online in The Washington Post. Adult children with elder parents should treat this article as an excellent primer that can help them understand more about their parents’ prescription benefits.

The AP article discusses a report by Avalere Health. This report finds that “seniors enrolled in seven of the 10 most popular Medicare prescription drug plans will be hit with double-digit premium hikes next year if beneficiaries don’t shop for a better deal.” The report/press release is about three pages and includes three easy-to-read tables (see linked image at right).

A Few Highlights and Salient Points from the AP Article Continue reading

Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses Loom Large Despite Medicare

Adult children who help aging parents should check out the Washington Post article At End of Life, Medicare Beneficiaries Spend Thousands Out-of-Pocket. Reporter Sarah Kliff explains that a recent study, Out of Pocket Spending in the Last Five Years of Life (abstract), published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, examined the amount of money that aging Medicare recipients spend on health care during the last five years of life. The abstract leads to the first two pages of the study, freely available.

According to the Post article, “The average Medicare beneficiary spent $38,688 out-of-pocket during the last five years of life.” This is in addition to the portion that Medicare covers. The Post article also features two excellent charts.

Click here to learn more about the study.

Researchers studied people who died between 2002 and 2008 using data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS), based at the University of Michigan. HRS is a large nationally representative study funded launched in 1992 and funded by the National Institute on Aging.

Continue reading