Using Speed of Time for Advantage
Outside of a Small Circle of Friends

Medicare and You – An Anniversary

[PERSONAL NOTE:] Summer break. Mental health week. Vacation. Breather. Whatever you call it, it means time away and I'm putting some distance between me and this blog this week.

Posts here will be a combination of new that I've written ahead and golden oldies. Note that everything at The Elder Storytelling Place linked at the bottom of each post here are new so please go read them.

I'll be checking in here occasionally to see how it goes.


Exactly 48 years ago today, U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law. Back then 50 percent of elders had no medical coverage, Today, all citizens 65 and older – about 50 million - are guaranteed health benefits through Medicare.

As the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare (NCPSSM) reminds us:

”Over half of Medicare beneficiaries have annual incomes of less than $23,000 and savings of less than $77,500.

“Forty percent have three or more chronic conditions, and

“Almost a quarter have a cognitive/mental impairment.

Having guaranteed health insurance coverage without regard to health status is particularly beneficial for members of minority groups. Two-thirds of African Americans and Hispanics have incomes below $23,000, and communities of color have a higher risk than whites for certain chronic conditions such as diabetes.”

Thousands of people are alive today who would not be without Medicare but it's not all a bowl of cherries. Medicare's solvency is a challenge. The good news is that President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) addresses some of that – although many Republicans in Congress want to destroy those fixes along with the ACA altogether.

Here is a 48th anniversary message from the president and CEO of the NCPSSM, Max Richtman:

“In spite of Medicare’s success in keeping America’s seniors healthy and out of poverty, Medicare’s guaranteed coverage is under nearly constant attack in Washington.

The budget plan passed in the House would end traditional Medicare, privatize it and leave seniors on their own to negotiate with private insurance companies. It would require seniors to pay $6,000 more each year for fewer benefits, making it harder to choose their own doctors while also giving the wealthiest Americans a massive tax break.

Too many Members of Congress who’ve advocated the dismantling of Medicare camouflage their plans with promises to 'save' the program.

“However, the American people know you don’t have to destroy Medicare to strengthen it. That’s the message our activists are delivering directly to Congress on this 48th anniversary.”

There is much more from the NCPSSM here. We all know, of course, that Medicare is not perfect. My biggest pet Medicare peeves are these two:

  1. It is way too complex. There are so many rules to understand both when signing up for Medicare the first time and when choosing or updating a supplemental plan that hardly anyone can understand it without help.

  2. The drug plan (Part D) is a financial disaster designed to enrich corporations more than elders. Yes, the dreaded doughnut hole is shrinking now and will be closed entirely by 2020. But although Part D is the largest drug plan in the country, it is still not allowed to negotiate prices as the Veterans Administration does.

In addition, it is easy to argue that enormous amounts of money would be saved if we switched to a single payer system for everyone and if, instead of the need for an Affordable Care Act, we just made it Medicare For All.

We may still, in the future, accomplish those sane goals but for today, let's celebrate what we have because without Medicare, I – among many elders - would be unable to afford any kind of healthcare at today's private insurance premium rates.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Arlene Corwin: Bed Yoga


Comments

I thank my lucky stars for Medicare and I am sure that all elders agree with me. Not only could we not afford today's premiums, the insurance companies would probably refuse to write policies on us because we cost them more than all other age groups.

48 years ago today I was an 18-year-old, newly-fledged Nurse Assistant at Wesley Hospital in Wichita, KS. I had just finished an intensive 8 week course (got paid for 7 of those weeks) to become a certified N.A. in anticipation of the signing of the Medicare Act. I was assigned to 5-West, a pre- and post-op floor. We received a flood of patients from nursing homes who were finally getting the surgeries they had put off prior to the bill, since they had no insurance and could not afford the medical care they needed, even though it would have made their lives more bearable. A few were suffering from dementia, but most were not. We were asked to volunteer to work our days off and most of us did so until we found out that we earned less take-home pay by working two extra days per week, because it threw us into a higher tax bracket. Then most of us elected to only work our 40 hours per week.

I was so proud to have such a responsible position at that age!

Oh, I forgot to mention that I was paid the huge sum of $1.25 an hour with time-and-a-half for over-time. We were paid every two weeks.

Classof65: Congrats on your experience at Wesley, the hospital at which I produced a child in 1959 and another in 1962.

That said, AFAIK, since the higher bracket taxes were collected on only the portion of income that was in the higher bracket, once you did your taxes, you would not have been paying a penalty. The withholding may have made it appear that you were making less; but, after paying your taxes on April 15, you would have been better off for having worked the additional hours.

How do you spell "Peace of Mind"? ---- M-E-D-I-C-A-R-E. Just this year I've had nearly $100K in hospital bills covered. I can't imagine old age living without this safety net.

I agree with you a hundred percent, including the idea of Medicare for all. But still, there's something wrong with this picture: Why is it that hardly anyone can afford the medical care they need?

I agree with you a hundred percent, including the idea of Medicare for all. But still, there's something wrong with this picture: Why is it that hardly anyone can afford the medical care they need?

Medicare sure should be for ALL. The fact that we can't seem to agree on that as a nation should be a source of endless shame.

Do want to say, as a Medicare newbie, I wish they could run the program more online and less through the mail. They deduct my premium from my bank account every month (not on Social Security yet) and then mail me a notice that they have done so. An email would do. Please! Though maybe Medicare is supporting the Postal Service? /snark

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