Friday, June 5, 2009

What Fresh Hell Is This?

As you should all know by now, Travis McGee is now qualified for Medicare. This is a great thing since the insurance at my company erodes yearly and is now barely recognizable as insurance. I know that sounds grousey but we are now on a high-deductible plan that only faintly resembles what we were presented with in the meeting. That's THE MEETING, where all choices are made in five minutes, you have only that window of time to enroll, and all 500 pages of info are condensed into a two-page spreadsheet explained by an independent contractor who is paid by the number of signatures she gets. You know the meeting I'm talking about. The one where the answer is always yes. They use those up so every subsequent phone call means the answer is no.
Anyway, I am happily arguing with podiatry specialists about paying for $800 tests up front and being told by the liaison that we should just keep going to specialists until we find one that doesn't require the upfront money, something we were told, btw, that would not happen. I thought doctor-hopping was a great idea. I have been wondering how to fill those empty voids of time. I am always so bored. Bouncing around to foot specialists, making appointments, wrangling with office managers. You can see the attraction. Even from where I sit I can tell that you, too, want to tour many doctor's offices in vain.
Back to Travis McGee's Medicare. Here is my biggest piece of advice. If you are over the age of 25, start looking into it. By the time you are 65 you will be quite conversant in the theories and practical applications of government run medical care. I pride myself on knowing things. In fact, I can be quite arrogant about the vast amount of useless knowledge rattling around in my head. This little experience brought me to heel. You have your part A and part B, but depending on when you apply determines cost. Then you have your prescription plan, part D. This one is based on location. Wherever you live, you have certain options. Most of them seem the same but the prices are different. Then there is the supplemental, or gap, insurance. This is third-party insurance to fill in the holes where Medicare doesn't pay. And oh my yes, there are holes!
Medigap comes in parts A, B, C, C SELECT, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, and finally, L. I kid you not. I told you to start early learning to decipher this stuff. Each lettered plan offers different combinations of coverage but every purveyor of these plans has to offer them the same way. Some offer skilled nursing after hospital stay but not overage costs of plan B. Some offer emergency insurance but not home health care. And, they are all over the board pricewise and also are differentiated between premiums that are age based or community based, meaning that the price is age dependent or everyone in a certain area pays the same. Confused yet? Me, too.
I will say, in defense of government workers, that I talked to a lovely woman at the Medicare office who sounded relieved to be talking to someone who could hear her. I got the feeling she did a lot of yelling into the phone. She was very efficient and only succeeded in confusing me a little bit more. I tuned her out when she gave me the third reference number for the prescription plan, only to be used when talking to Medicare again and not to be mixed up with the other numbers, one of which was a confirmation of purchase and the other was something that I have no idea because I didn't listen. I'm quite sure it will be the only one I will need.
I look forward to the adventures that are coming our way. Yesterday I tried to switch Travis McGee over to my doctor. This is because his doctor is 139 and has not read a medical journal since prohibition. I figured now was a good time to get someone new involved. Guess what? My doctor is not taking on any Medicare patients. Yay! I wonder how many times we will encounter that. Again, a word to the wise. Start boning up now. You're going to need it.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bargains Galore! and Graduation Time!

Well hello all! I am once again at this keyboard typing away and very glad of it. The last week or so has been end-of-month work business and all the attendant stress and graduations. It was also the "find out everything about Medicare and Medigap week" so that has just been a blast.

First, our nephew Drew graduated from high school. We made the journey to Frankfort to attend what has to be the fastest graduation ceremony I have ever seen. There were 234 in the senior class and the whole shebang took 50 minutes. It was like the Baptist wedding planners took it over. Had it been a wedding, they would have been in and out with just enough time to pray, say I do and have punch and cake. My brother and sister-in-law held a pig roast on Saturday in honor of the graduate complete with my mom's cornbread sticks. Perfection. Drew will be attending college here in Louisville so we anticipate much visiting and laundry doing as we are 8 blocks from campus. It's hard to believe that the little towhead that came into our family when he was four is now a seventeen-year-old, grown up and ready to bust out into the world. I know many of you are feeling the same way right now about your loved ones. It is a beautiful thing to see a child raised to be almost a man and know that he is as equipped as possible with the ability to discern what is right, to treat his fellow man with respect and that he knows what it is to love and be loved. Drew's mother and my brother have done a wonderful job as parents and he is as ready as he will ever be to go on a new adventure.

On the bargain front, apparently it is quite the thing these days for tv and radio stations to offer gift certificates to businesses at steep discounts. They get these in trade or as promotions and pass them on to listeners. For example, here in Louisville, 102.3 fm offers all sorts of bargains every Wednesday. Currently there are spa and golf packages, deals on nails and restaurants. Maker's Mark was offering $50 gift cards for $25. Same thing for Penn Station. Bargains everywhere! Check around your local stations. These deals are limited and sell out quick but half off is worth the effort.

Tomorrow, the vagaries of learning the language of Medicare.