Saturday, October 11, 2014

A morning read about health insurance

This week the book "Medicare & You" arrived in our mailbox.  Since anything will be read here, early this morning seemed to be the time.  This 150 page plus booklet is well bound and appropriately has reasonable large print.  Unfortunately the title of the book should be "Everything about Medicare except what you really want to know."  The words "You must..." appear regularly, making sure You know that it's only your fault if you miss some deadline or don't file some document.  What documents?  There are none in this package.  This is not a book that tells a person how to take action.  It is a book that suggests that you should.

There are some strange lapses.  The word "deductible" comes up frequently, but the amount of any deductible is never defined, even for "Original Medicare" which is sort of the "Classic Coke" of this book.  The descriptions of Medicare start out simply and in a very clear way, but as the book evolves the story, or plot, become more opaque.  The one thing that you finally can know for sure is that if you have all of the Medicare coverage that you would really want, you don't want it.  That's because if you did you would have ALS, aka Lou Gehrig's disease, or ESRD, that is end stage renal disease.

The book really hits its stride on page 93, which has a spectacularly meaningless chart.  Only a government bureaucracy could produce such a piece of work.  The chart apparently gives the coverage limits of 10 types of Supplemental Insurance Coverage, none of which are named.  The message is, to paraphrase, "go find them yourself."  Then the real gusher of information begins on page 148 and what follows is 15 pages of charts detailing over 35 New York City area Medicare Health Plans and their user ratings.  It is difficult to imagine making a choice among all of this in isolation.  Nowhere does the book say how to make a choice if you wanted to, although all of the deadlines are there.  There is no "call this number or fill out his form" or whatever.  Maybe it will come in mail that follows.

All of that may be moot here, as supplemental coverage here comes from a retirement plan with my last employer.  That worked perfectly, and smoothly, as Classic Coke was in place and the cost of the supplemental was simply deducted from a retirement payment and voila, there was drug coverage, dental, and supplemental insurance provided by previous employer.  Easy as pie.  Of course, everything in the prior sentence was in the past tense.  Now that previous employer has announced a new "more flexible" plan called "Screw the Retiree", but all of the details have not been sent yet, due to arrive in another handsome book, no doubt, any day.  Essentially the flexibility is that now, as with Medicare, all of the burden of choosing a plan falls on the insured.  There will be flexibility also as there will be the opportunity to pay multiple providers depending for services that you choose.  There will also be the flexibility to receive payments from previous employer in an HRA, Health Reimbursement Arrangement, documentation of which will increase the much enjoyed paperwork that can fill your idle hours with thrifty activity.

I get ahead of myself, and must await a more lengthy book to determine the real impact of this plan.  Surely the previous employer will at least send some information on how to enroll, and not just that you should.

Always more to look forward to?     


Anonymous Henry said...

One would think that Medicare would allow broad choices by their clients, as investment advisory firms do. The investment firms could ask if you want a completely risk averse, conservative, balanced, moderately aggressive, or aggressive approach and then give choices. Medicare or your private plan could ask what your preferences are and then give best choices to meet your needs. Why not?

3:12 PM  

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