It has been a physically draining experience. But I would like to take a few moments to assist others who may be approaching such a significant new phase of life in the near future. While the options for both parts B and D are more numerous than bunnies on a rabbit farm, I have chosen to focus on the Medicare, part D, drug prescription plan.
Medicare's drug prescription plan is reason #38 the U.S. ranks 37th as of 2006 in health care among the world's most economically advanced nations.
It is my hope the valuable experience I have gained these past six months or so will take much of the stress out of the decision making process for others when choosing a Medicare drug plan.
Most importantly, we should not forget to give thanks to our congressmen in Washington for working long and hard in a close symbiotic relationship with the pharmaceuticals, health insurance companies and HMO's to craft a system that guarantees the maximum health of these industries, their lobbyists, and their lobbyist's "customers," our elected representatives.
Here then are the tools I have discovered most helpful in deciding the best Medicare prescription plan, each with its Medicare gap or "do-nut hole" that kicks in to give insurers some relief in case you're too sick and in need of too many, or too expensive, medications.
AARP, that organization founded to advocate for retired people, has been very helpful. One word of caution, however, they recommend but one prescription drug plan themselves. It's through UnitedHealthcare and doesn't mean it's necessarily the best one for retirees. UnitedHealthcare probably paid AARP the most of anyone for AARP to endorse UnitedHealth. Remember, when it comes to health care, concern for yours doesn't come first!
That aside, this AARP provided form proved very helpful. It allows you to list up to 10 medications you're on or will need in the future, their present cost, and what they will cost you under different plans, many with multiple copay sub-plans. I'm not sure how many plans I received solicitations from in recent months, in the 10's, 100's, 1,000's, but I'm sure a number of acres of Amazon rain forest trees gave their lives up for me.
If you'll notice, the worksheet recommends you "print as many as you need" copies for as many plans, their sub-plans and their sub-sub-plans as you're considering.
One of the other reasons to make lots of copies, besides all the incredible choices given (some come with free lunch seminars, or your own personal insurance agents who'll come visit you in your own home!) is the fact you must decide the plan best suiting your needs based not only on your current prescriptions being taken, but the future medical conditions you'll encounter as well. That's because not all plans cover all medications you might need.
During my drug plan selection process, I became very stressed. I developed hypertension, and indigestion soon followed with acid reflux, precursor to peptic ulcers. This was actually a wonderful fate, because I now know some of the medications I will likely need in the future! (It helped whittle down my choices by (just) a couple.)
But what follows are the really wonderful tools that can assist one in making decisions of which drugs they will need in the future. Knowing this, you can proceed with AARP's worksheet knowing that, come 2014, say, you'll probably need anti-cholesterol, hypertension, hepatitis-C, and multiple sclerosis meds. Or maybe, prescriptions for bi-polar disorder, thyroid, gout and rheumatoid arthritis (with the cholesterol problem, no doubt).
Keep in mind, the more you are willing to spend on the aids shown, the more likely their accuracy, which can save you money in the long run.
GOOD - Magic Eight BallKeep in mind, it can only give you "Yes" or "No" type answers. Hence, one will need to ask it leading questions and, depending on how "dark" your mood is about the future, it could lead to some maladies one would rather not really face, i.e., "Will I develop alopecia capitis totalis?"
BETTER - A real crystal ballBetter than an Eight Ball, but best read by a professional. May foresee afflictions via images conjured in the ball. However, the interpretations are still rather unspecific. (NOTE: Ignore the $1 bill in above illustration. A professional crystal baller will cost you at least a 100 times that for a short session.)
GOOD - Tarot cardsLike the crystal ball, however, doesn't do well naming specific diseases and the medications you will need for them.
BETTER - The i chingWith more combinations and permutations than tarot, definitive predictions as to your future disorders and diseases may be more specific, helping greatly in cutting down your Medicare, part D, plan options.
WORSE - mechanical "carnie" fortune teller
Least recommended as reliable unless you only have 50 cents to invest in your Medicare, part D, decision making process.
BEST - Your own personal swami.Reminiscent of the Beatles' transcendent enlightenment years of the 60's, the one most likely to predict what diseases you may face in the future. This could provide you with the most valuable information for deciding which Medicare, part D, drug prescription plan is best for you. But be careful, make sure you procure a licensed professional with an excellent reputation as there are a lot of faker fakirs out there!
FINALLY - Divining Rods
While your choices in choosing the right prescription drug plan may be a bit overwhelming and, yes, while most folks in other advanced nations like France or Cuba don't have to worry about future afflictions they must suffer to determine which plan may or may not cover them, be thankful that here in the U.S. we get a say in it. We get choices. Thousands of choices! And, as a result, decisions to make! Good luck!
(Oh, and by the way, this last aid, a pair of divining rods, are designed to help you locate water underground. They won't actually tell you whether you'll get breast cancer or prostate cancer (if you don't have breasts).
But after finally wading your way through the myriad of Medicare drug options, you may get some ideas of where you might like to stick these rods!