Elder Paper Chase
Wednesday, 09 January 2008
Is it Crabby Old Lady’s imagination or is there a lot more paper to deal with when you get old, turn 65 or retire?
For the small amount of time Crabby spends on medical issues – paying monthly Supplemental, Medicare Part B and Part D premiums, the occasional physician visit, one prescription drug to be refilled every three months – there is a larger flurry of dead tree material in her snailmail box than she would have expected based on her life before turning 65.
There are forms explaining who paid for what in impenetrable prose and charts that arrive, several for each medical incident stretched over many months, all mailed separately. The lag time for the pharmacy or physician to actually get their money appears to be lengthy although Crabby can’t be certain; each word on the forms is in English, but strung together, they don’t make much sense.
On a schedule Crabby has lost track of but seems to be frequent, her Part D, prescription drug provider sends missives about pharmacies – brick-and-mortar and mail-order. These appear to be urging her to use the mail for her one drug, but she likes dealing with a locally-owned pharmacy even if it does cost her $5 more for a 90-day supply of the pills.
For the 50 years Crabby Old Lady was employed full-time, she heard from the Social Security Administration once a year with a statement of her earnings and withholding. Now there’s an envelope from them once a month or so with information so deadly boring that Crabby can’t remember what it is to tell you.
It wouldn’t surprise Crabby to find out that every insurance company authorized to operate in the State of Maine contacts her monthly. It’s especially heavy during the November and December Part D renewal period. The rest of the year, her mailbox overflows with expensive, four-color brochures on the advantages of Medicare Advantage programs each with a photograph of the same smiling, gray-haired couple on the cover.
Even all that doesn’t begin to match the number of advertisements for medical alert devices, retirement community real estate, scooters, supplements guaranteed to cure dozens of ailments Crabby has never heard of and dubious time-share pitches. Oh, and the pleasures of cruises at $9600 a pop (on much cheaper paper than the Medicare Advantage booklets).
Of course, that doesn't count the standard-issue catalogues that have slowed down now since the end of the holidays nor the local supermarket and drug store flyers that people of every age receive, and the regular mailings from Dell who must think Crabby has not replaced the computer she bought from them 12 years ago since they continue to address her as "Dear Customer."
Apparently there is no way to get off these lists or slow down the avalanche from Medicare and Social Security. But it’s a good thing Crabby Old Lady has that Medicare coverage. She’s going to need it for the hernia she’s developing from hauling 100 pounds of paper downstairs for recycling each week.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Georgie Bright Kunkel explains Why I Joined the Raging Grannies of Seattle.]
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I repeat......it's all business. At least 25 years ago a physician I worked with predicted that "old age" would become the next big business frontier. How right he was!!! Personally, I'm sick of too much information(including constipation!LOL)about aging. It's everywhere & only reminds us on a regular schedule about growing old. And that includes the mail of course. I've considered putting a trash barrel next to my mailbox! I just pitch everything. BTW, good to see Crabby back in her usual good form. Dee
Posted by: Dee | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 04:10 AM
Have you ever considered having a laundry chute installed in your home that would allow you to drop catalogs and snail mail ads down to your first floor recycle bin?
Posted by: Nancy | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 05:51 AM
The one that really got to me was the notice from my insurer that I owed a doctor $2.75, then the notice from Medicare with the same info. Finally, some weeks later, the bill came from the doctor. Years ago, I remember reading that each letter sent by a company cost about $2.75. Did any of this make any sense?
Posted by: Ruthe | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 06:20 AM
I'm nodding, nodding nodding. All but that last. I have G haul the many tons of recycle down two flights to the big bin. I'm heading to the doctor for the stretched tendons from bringing in the mail.
Posted by: Mage Bailey | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 07:19 AM
I feel your pain, Crabby. I could write my own blog on this because it just points out another reason to keep the insurance companies out of the Nations's medical industry.
The duplication, expense and waste of all of this is one of the main reasons our health care industry is broken and is so outrageously expensive. (Not to mention the trees that had to be cut down to supply this blitz of paper.)
I don't know if it would work, but one solution to the junk snail mail is to mark "return to sender" and re-post it. The sender would have to pay the postage again.
Posted by: Darlene | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 07:32 AM
Nice idea, but there's nowhere to install a chute in this building - no shared space in back and a foyer that is only about 4-by-8 feet.
Good solution, but we can't work here.
Posted by: Crabby Old Lady | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 09:11 AM
HOORAY! You hit THIS one out of the park. I love your description of the language: "each word...seems to be in English, but strung together they don't make much (sic) sense." (I'd say they don't make ANY sense, but quibble quibble....)
If Social Security does indeed go broke, it'll be due to the unrestrained use of expensive, useless printing. like "dear social security, we can't understand it and throw it all out anyway, so why send it?"
NOW, OTHER TOPIC OF THE DAY:
Why in the name of all that is unholy have all the bloviators of the MSM latched onto Hillary's tears as the reason why she beat the crap out of Obama and the rest?? Argh!!
Posted by: m.e. | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 09:43 AM
How about strapping the light stuff to Ollie's back and throwing catnip down the stairs toward the recycle bin?
Posted by: Nancy | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 10:55 AM
May I suggest GreenDimes at
http://www.greendimes.com/. It is not free, but it's a one-time charge and they PLANT TREES with some of your money.
I also bought a couple of the Chico bags that were offered at check-out and LOVE them; reusable shopping bags that will wad up inside themselves and hang on your keychain!
Or you could take up Origami...?
Posted by: Kate | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 01:07 PM
My husband likes to use the pre-paid reply envelopes to post the stuff right back to the sender. He really packs that envelope too.
Posted by: Peggy | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 01:15 PM
Here's my suggestion regarding the excess junk mail.
Shred it and have a parade once a year. Instant confetti.
Since you are on an upstairs floor the effect would be smashing.
Posted by: Chancy | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 01:23 PM
It would be a much better world if we could simplify so many things. Maybe someone could get elected on that platform.
Posted by: H.A. Page | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 04:52 PM
Everything that you write about is all true. Since June 07 when I turned 65, I've gotten reams of mail and hate wading through it all in case I miss something really important. No wonder medical care costs so much and our forests are dwindling.
Posted by: MMH | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 06:19 PM
It would be interesting to talk to a few of the insurance companies and ask them what expectation they have of anyone actually reading their advertising literature. What a huge waste.
In Germany, if you put up a small sign on your mailbox that says, "No advertising" and the postal delivery services are then not allowed to stuff your box with adverts. It's against the law and, if the services then do put things through your mail slot, they have to take them back. Simple, eh!
Posted by: lilalia | Wednesday, 09 January 2008 at 11:40 PM
It's exactly opposite here in the United States - the postal service MUST deliver every piece of mail addressed to a person or even to "occupant" with an address. Local flyers for the supermarket or drug store don't even have addresses.
Catalogs are often addressed, for example, to "Crabby Old Lady or current occupant."
Apparently all that mailing pays off for direct mail advertisers. They study it and know how much of a return they get on each mailing. Crabby has read that they need only a small response - one or two percent - for a mailing to be profitable.
Posted by: Crabby Old Lady | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 02:17 AM
You Know Ronni
My experience, so far anyway, is that mom's medicare paperwork and rx pile of paper is considerably shorter than my own private insurance medical pile, dealing with multiple insurance companies and multiple plans over multiple years, having to submit and resubmit and beg and plead and try to keep it all straight. (I can't)
I think paperwork for everyone in general has gotten out of hand, computers or no.
Posted by: Candace | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 06:23 AM
we use one of these.
Posted by: madame l. | Thursday, 10 January 2008 at 11:25 PM