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.]