Saturday, November 12, 2005

"I have a Ph.D., and it's too complicated to suit me"

Confusion Is Rife About Drug Plan as Sign-Up Nears

Enrollment in the new Medicare drug benefit begins in three days, but even with President Bush hailing the plan on Saturday as "the greatest advance in health care for seniors" in 40 years, large numbers of older Americans appear to be overwhelmed and confused by the choices they will have to make.

"I have a Ph.D., and it's too complicated to suit me," said William Q. Beard, 73, a retired chemist in Wichita, Kan., who takes eight prescription drugs, including several heart medicines. "I wonder how the vast majority of beneficiaries will handle this. I fervently wish that members of Congress had to deal with the same health care program we do."


In most states, beneficiaries have a choice of more than three dozen prescription drug plans. Premiums, deductibles, co-payments and covered drugs vary widely. Many retirees also have other options: getting drug coverage through former employers or through Medicare-managed care plans.

In Kansas, Medicare beneficiaries have a choice of 40 prescription drug plans charging premiums from $9.48 a month to $67.88 a month.


Asked about beneficiaries' confusion, Michael O. Leavitt, the secretary of health and human services, said: "Health care is complicated. We acknowledge that. Lots of things in life are complicated: filling out a tax return, registering your car, getting cable television. It is going to take time for seniors to become comfortable with the drug benefit."

More proof--as if you needed it--that being an arrogant, condescending asshole is requisite for a job in the assministration. Sorry, Mr. Leavitt, doing your taxes is pretty simple if you plunk down twenty bucks for TurboTax. Registering the car? Tedious, but simple. Cable television is a five minute phone call away. And health care would be simple, too, if the benefit plan was actually built around providing health care rather than stuffing the pockets of Big Pharma and the insurance industry.


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