Wednesday, October 6, 2021


Some of you may remember when I was whining about my upcoming retirement. I mentioned being wary of Medicare, mainly because I knew nothing about it, having grown up in a country where free medical care was available to all. But, having worked in the US for 27 years, paying into Medicare with every paycheck, I had hopes that it would be all I needed. Not so, apparently you need to buy insurance cover to fill in the gaps. Mainly, I think, dental and vision. I also mentioned that my husband was taking care of arranging that, as I fought my way through the misery of the last few months of the bullying that forced my decision to retire.

We were more than halfway through the Medicare year so settled for cover that looked like it would do while we got familiar with what was and was not available to us. It was okay, but coming up to the new Medicare year we have a better idea of what we need.

What I didn't realize was, after the 27 years of deductions from every paycheck, we still have to pay a monthly charge for Medicare coverage - it isn't huge, but it is still a payment I didn't expect. Add to that, the slightly larger payment for the separate coverage that is essential, and the fact that for some reason my one medication is not covered at all. That of course, is because I can't take the generic form and that is all they will pay for. 

It amazes me that a country that considers itself the leader of the Western World, doesn't have adequate health cover for its elderly, nor for the huge number of people living in poverty. OK, it has something called Medicaid which I understand is for those citizens who can't afford any sort of health care, depending on what state you live in. Said leader of the Western World also has a huge population living below the poverty line. According to this report:

"Official U.S. Census Bureau statistics estimate that 40 million persons, 12.3 percent of the total population, were poor in the United States in 2017"

You can bet that figure is way higher now, after the pandemic. 

But the most unexpected thing about Medicare is the incredible amount of spam it generates. If you live in the US you will notice a plethora of advertising around this time of year, and it will get worse between now and December. This is open enrollment and all of the insurance companies and supplemental plans are vying for what money the elderly have to spare. If you happen to already be on Medicare you are getting spam phone calls and emails - apparently the Do Not Call list doesn't apply to them - or so they think.

The elderly are not well cared for in the US. I remember a number of years ago, when I was doing my mother-in-law's taxes for her, how horrified I was that, despite having almost no income, she still owed the IRS. Her very small Social Security payment was taxed! Had she not been living with us she would have very quickly burned through the small savings her husband had left her with. How elderly people with no family to care for them manage is beyond me. I did write about that at the time.

It is bad enough that we have to put up with the aches and pains and all the other things that old age brings, now we have to put up with a whole new wave of spam. I am still hopeful that as I get more experience with this system, I will discover some more positive details. And at least we do have it.

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