Medicare and Me- The Progressive- 2/1/16

Seems getting older is all about paperwork. It should be about preparing for one’s personal Rapture, the lifting-off into the Great Maybe. Just when I thought I should start reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and start rounding up my personal belongings for the Ultimate Toe Tag Sale, I received my 162-page handbook, Medicare & You.

The people on the handbook’s front cover all look very happy with their Medicare plans. They certainly look happier than their Ciallis cohort who have to jump into claw-foot bathtubs, “when a moment spontaneously turns romantic”. Side effects may vary. Turns out, the Medicare spokescodgers look happy because they have survived enrolling in Medicare.

For many years I had the good fortune of being on my dear partner’s healthcare plan.  When she changed jobs, we decided it was time for me to sign up for Medicare.

To humblebrag: we have a few advanced degrees between us.  She is a lawyer. She has run organizations and foundations and supervised the development of their healthcare plans.  Together we have learned the language of financial planning and home ownership.

To learn the language of Medicare, before the looming December enrollment deadline that I had ignored (my bad) took several weekends of intensive study.

Side effects were unvarying: blinding headaches, fuzzy thinking, temporary loss of reading comprehension, difficulty sleeping, and throwing up hands.  I would like to apologize to all the people I maligned who were were whining about signing up for the Affordable Care Act. Now I get it.

Time will tell if I actually signed up for Plan B, the medical  insurance or Plan B, the emergency morning-after contraceptive.  Or if my Plan F’s additional mind-the-medigap coverage through AARP and my Plan D’s prescription drug coverage through something that sounds like Silver Stream Motor Homes will do what they promise. Nevertheless, I now have a BFD degree in Medicare.

A few suggestions from a new expert: When old people hit diminished mental capacity—OK, I’ll speak for myself—it’s no time to for us to be reading the fine print and working the abacus. Besides, we’d rather be volunteering, doing some adult learning, or smearing blood on warheads.

Young people won’t put up with all the paperwork. There might not be trees by then.  They’ll want a simple “like” option on their device of choice at the time.  Get them working now on an embedded chip that has a combo Social Security/Medicare/voter ID number and a photo ID hologram that matures with you.

I do not want to sound like Condoleeza Rice, who always seemed to be whining that while the terrorists did chatter about attacking the United States in the run-up to 9/11, they never gave a date (how rude!). But, obviously, the true fatal flaw of whole health-care planning process is that we don’t know our death day. I know I work better on deadlines.

It was a proud day when my new Medicare card came.  I would have liked some John Williamsy, patriotic music for the envelope opening. But, bummer: My fab new red, white and blue ticket to the promised land of health security was printed on tacky, low-grade construction paper stock. After all that. Message:  dot-guv is saving on lamination costs because cardholders aren’t going to be around much longer.