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Columnist, Sheila Moss, is humor writer from  Tennessee. She writes  a weekly human interest column about daily life or anything else that  she finds amusing.

   She is seen weekly in the Daily News of Kingsport. She has written for  Griffin Journal, Oakridge Now, Atlanta Woman Magazine, Aberdeen Examiner, Angleton Advocate,  and Smyrna AM, a supplement of the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal. She has been published by Voyageur Press, McGraw Hill, and the good folks at Guidepost Books.  Her articles have appeared in numerous anthologies and other publications, both in print and online.

    She is a former board member and past  Editor of  the, website of  the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the oldest and largest professional organization for columnists. She is the Web Editor of Southern
  and  a founder of the Southern Humorists writers' organization. She is writer, editor, and webmaster of

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Medicare Madness....

Medicare Madness

I believe I have found the explanation for forgetfulness in our aging population. Medicare.

Like most people, I didn't give a flip about understanding Medicare and thought old people were just being senile by not understanding it. After all, it's just insurance. How difficult can it be?

Now I'm suffering from Medicare induced dementia myself.

I had occasion this past month to try and bone up and get an idea of what is going on with Medicare -- not that I will ever turn 65 myself, of course. I have never seen such a confusing way to get insurance in my entire life.

First of all, I was under the impression that Medicare and Social Security sort of came together since both are administered by Social Security. Wrong! We are talking about the government here. Everything must be as confusing as possible.

You reach Medicare age at 65. You reach full retirement age for Social Security at various ages, depending on when you were born. For those reaching 65 this year, it is age 65 and 10 months, and it becomes a bit older for each succeeding generation.

Of course, you can retire as early as 62, with reduced Social Security benefits, but the amount you can earn after retirement is limited. At full retirement age, you can receive Social Security and also earn as much as you want, presuming you want to work instead of rock.

Before we become totally confused, lets talk about Medicare.

Medicare has many parts and each part covers something different. The parts are creatively named A, B, C, and D. A is hospitalization, B is medical and doctors, D is drug coverage. C once was Medicare Choice (C, get it?), but is now called Medicare Advantage (still C, or MA) C is optional private insurance instead of the original Medicare plan.

Simple? Good, lets move on. If you have A and B, there are large deductibles, and you need yet another plan to fill these gaps. This is imaginatively called a "Medigap" plan or Medicare Supplement (not part G). Actually, these plans might as well be called Greek since nobody is exactly sure what they cover.

Part C sometimes includes D, but not always. D's vary greatly, so you have to be sure to find a plan that covers your needs. If you are not retiring when you reach 65, you need A but not B until you stop working, provided you
have employee insurance. If you have either A or B, D is optional. A is free for most people, but the rest of the alphabet has a premium attached.

Seniors age 65 are informed that they must decide NOW as the premiums will increase if they wait. They are bombarded with information, mail falling out of the box, and a phone ringing off the hook. Various insurance companies, including AARP, all claim to have the best plan, most popular plan, or a number of different plans to fit your budget. No wonder people are confused!

One insurance plan runs commercials on TV showing seniors dancing and claims to have everything covered, even extras that are not covered under other plans, such as eyeglasses. Maybe extras should be called part E? Soon we will have so many parts we will run out of alphabet and need to use the Greek letters, like naming hurricanes.

We have merely scratched the surface of an explanation here. Suffice it to say that if you do not have to figure this mess out for your job, aging parents, or yourself -- enjoy your liberty. One of these days, time will catch up with all of us. Of course, there is probably no need to worry about it now as it will be completely different by the time you reach retirement age anyhow.

As I said before, it isn't dementia that is driving seniors over the edge - it's Medicare.

Copyright 2007 Sheila Moss


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