Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Medicare Part Duh

230 Medicare Part Duh!

So here comes this letter from Medicare. Welcome, it says. We hope you enjoy your coverage and to make things even dandier for you we’ve got this really nice website with all kinds of nifty helpful information specially for you.

Here’s the site: http://mymedicare.gov.

Here’s the password: *******

That’s what they sent. Seven asterisks.

You can root around the website and find an actual phone number.

When you call that, a chirpy, cheery “customer service specialist” gets on the phone with little or no wait. There mustn’t be too many calls from senior citizens about website technical issues.

Is this a website technical issue? It doesn’t seem so, but it is. See, Medicare sent out half a gazillion letters and all of them had the same password: *******.

So, they’re sending new letters to everyone who became eligible on April 1, 2007. And when will it arrive? Chirpy says “as soon as possible.”

A natural question, then, would be, “when, approximately, might that be?”

But why take up her valuable time. While waiting for a call from a semi-savvy senior who sort of knows his way around the computer (there ARE a few dozen of us,) she probably had better things to do. Like practicing using the word “issue” when she meant “problem.” Or finding a new painkiller for her face, which has to hurt after eight hours of smiling on purpose.

But let’s hope she’s not in that famous new kid on the block “Medicare Part D.” If she is, she’ll have to check with herself to see if there’s a generic version and if it’s covered and at what level it’s covered if its covered.

Bayer Aspirin is not. Mightymart aspirin substitute is. And tests have shown that Mightymart aspirin is every bit as good as the real thing. In a double double blind study, it was shown that people who took Mightymart aspirin got over their headaches (and their face aches) 23 percent faster than those who took sugar pills or no pills at all.

The co-pay for Mightymart Aspirin is $2.00. However, without Medicare Part Duh, anyone can pick up the same bottle from the shelf for $1.79. So for the privilege of going through the Medicare part Duh system, you also get the privilege of paying 21 cents more for a bottle of generic aspirin. And if you’re on part D and walking down the painkiller aisle of your neighborhood Mightymart, and armed 6-foot-5, 280 pound Pinkerton will suddenly materialize and bar you from buying a name-brand aspirin, even at list price.

You are a generic, semi-warehoused Medicare Part D participant, and you will buy what we tell you, and ONLY what we tell you.

That’s a tiny exaggeration. The Pinkerton is not armed. The armed one only materializes if you try to buy something really name brand – like Geritol. Or Vicks Formula 44. Then, you’ve got trouble.

And if you want something like Lipitor or Zoloft, an entire Pinkerton Platoon shows up to make sure you get the generic.

Sometimes, they’ll let you off easy – like you can pay a fine. (They call it a co-payment. But fifty bucks for a tube of skin cancer goo is NOT a co-payment. It’s a punishment.)

I'm Wes Richards, my opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.

(c) 2007 WJR

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