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Medicare Part D

By Dian Vujovich

A neighbor, who happens to have a very conservative bent, stopped me the other day to make his point that if the government were to create and be in charge of a health insurance plan all of America be in deep trouble because it would be a socialist program. I responded by asking him what he thought Medicare was.

He answered, “A mess made by liberals.”

Then I asked him if he thought his dad would be willing to give up all of his Medicare benefits. That solicited a no response.

I don’t know anyone—rich or poor, red or blue— over the age of 65 who would willingly give up their Medicare benefits. Or their Social Security checks for that matter. Both are government created and run programs that few, if any, want to see disappear.

Both also have more than their fair share of problems fiscally and otherwise. One is the confusion around Medicare Part D regarding what’s covered in this prescription drug program and what’s not.

Lita Epstein has written “The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Medicare Part D”. It’s a small book full of information that at this time is still relevant. If Part D of Medicare confuses you, a friend or loved one, take a read through it.

A couple of things I found interesting in it are as follows: For openers, just because you qualify for Part D doesn’t mean you need to sign up for it. Epstein writes: “You may have better coverage from somewhere else, like your retirement health plan from a former company or union, the Veteran’s Administration, or your state’s health benefits.”

And, to beware of those soliciting your business.

Apparently this year there are over 1500 different plans available for Part D and about 50 offered across various parts of the country. So not only is picking a plan challenging, folks selling and marketing them can’t always be trusted. Epstein writes that people “should never agree to an up-front payment” or write a check the same day to pay. If a salesperson says you need to do that she says to “say no.”

Back to me: Although there may be changes to this prescription drug part of Medicare in the near future one thing is certain: Way too many seniors can’t afford the rapidly rising costs of the prescription drugs they need to take to stay alive.

At this writing, how to solve that dilemma appears to be as difficult as finding a cure for the common cold.

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