February 16, 2006
Medicare D - glimpse of the future?
Sudden health care for the masses. Now Grandma and Grandpa have prescription drug coverage through a private prescription drug program (PDP). Humana, WellCare, Walgreens, AARP, SilverScripts... The list at Medicare.gov is more massive than you can imagine. There are over 42 PDP's in my zip code alone, and I live in a mid-size city of 180,000. The sudden relief of funds on the state is going to have a large impact, but even more so, is the individual impact it will have on each Medicare recipient.
It's beginning to look really good as members of local pharmacies get settled in their new coverage plan. Many people have switched from large corporate pharmacies like Walgreens, to smaller more personal pharmacies. Due to the fact that larger corporation pharmacies were unable to change their policies fast enough to cater to the new Medicare D crowd (no matter what the commercials advertised).
There is a downside to the Medicare people receiving Medicaid prior to January 2006. They are suddenly required to put out some of their own adjusted income cash (co-pays) for their own prescriptions. These people are on disability insurance from SSI. They are quadriplegics, mentally ill, blind, or otherwise unable to work. They never paid money out of their pocket for prescriptions before. That's my first PFFT! right there. Luckily, the state is starting to pick their costs up. The state was paying for all of it before, why not the co-pays now? It's only February, and the wheels of bureaucracy are already turning.
Will it last? Medicare D will last. Instead of being federally funded, it's privately funded. Instead of being a huge government bureaucracy, it's a capitalist auction with thousands of participants. The competition will keep the premiums down, the co-pays lower, and the deductibles just high enough, the client never reaches the donut hole. If they do, in fact, reach the donut hole where they suddenly have to pay for all their own thousands of dollars in medications each month, they can always pay the penalty and switch PDP's.
It's an ingenious plan. But I see a broad turn in health care on the horizon. Particularly for America where medical socialism is a dirty word. This program seems acceptable when it's referring to prescriptions, but will it stop there? Will this same philosophy be applied to health care in general? Is this just the beginning? Are we starting to let insurance plans rule our lives? Sure, we can pick our poison, but if I have to stare down the throat of a faceless insurance company and spit just to get what I need... PFFT!!!
Published: February 17, 2006