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Blog of Mass Destruction

Making Seniors Anxious

By The Reverend Published: December 10, 2011

My 86 year old mother's secondary health coverage, a benefit from my father's lifetime of union membership, is changing next year. The company my father used to work for is no longer handling the health care directly....and instead, they, as many many other companies have done, brokered the coverage out to others.

For years, my mother has had secondary coverage for what Medicare does not pay for....as well as prescription drug coverage. So, the "new" health insurance broker sent her a booklet a while back which details the many available plans my mother can choose from. It is up to her to plumb the depths of complexity in the dozens and dozens of different "plans" and, like choosing which beans to buy at the grocery store, come up with the best consumer choice for her secondary health insurance needs.

I don't consider myself to be ignorant, even though some of my critics would argue that point....but I must say, there really is no figuring out the maze of insurance psycho-babble inherent in the dozens of "plans." I am not exaggerating here. I found the booklet of plans to be virtually indecipherable.

I bring this up today because I see that in his effort to ward off any further Newt Gingrich momentum, GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, came out yesterday with a rousing endorsement of Paul Ryan's plan to privatize Medicare and Social Security. In the case of Medicare, Ryan proposed to "voucherize" the government program. In Ryan's plan, seniors would receive a government voucher in the mail and then be free to purchase whatever private insurance plan that they could afford. The Congressional Budget Office determined that Ryan's plan would cost seniors an average of $6000 more out of their pockets for medical coverage than traditional Medicare.

Gingrich, previously, had called Ryan's radical plan "right wing social engineering".....and with Newt pulling away in primary polling....Romney is hoping to regain his frontrunner-footing by reminding conservatives of Newt's critical comments of conservative darling Ryan's supply side plan to allegedly "save" Medicare.

Romney, like Newt, will say damn near anything.....but that's not my point.

The point is this: Why would a political party want to purposely frustrate, confuse and confound America's seniors with endless mazes of private health care insurance "plans" booklets....during a time in their lives when anxiety over health issues and health care costs have never been higher? What would be better for seniors.....a single payer Medicare program which, basically, doesn't change from year to year....providing security and steadiness for all our nation's seniors when it comes to health care coverage? Or a "you're on your own", perennially changing, host of complicated and indecipherable private health insurance "choices" to navigate?

Do conservatives who favor Ryan's plan, like Romney, really believe that seniors are well-equipped to shop for which insurance plan will best cover hip replacement or bypass surgery? Really? Do conservatives who favor a for-profit, more expensive replacement for Medicare actually believe that seniors will be better off worrying every year whether the for-profit insurance "choice" they've made will keep them from losing their home or filing for bankruptcy?

Don't forget.....Medicare Plan D, a prescription drug government program handed over entirely to the for-profit insurance industry still contains the "donut hole" trickery....a numbers gimmick no doubt included for the sake of profit at the expense of our seniors.

Why then would America's seniors be better off with a Medicare Plan D version of Medicare? With a voucherized, for-profit replacement for Medicare.....not only will seniors pay more, thousands more each year, out of pocket...but they will also be subjected to paper shuffler-gimmickry shell games constructed to maximize profits. On top of higher prices and being subjected to the capitalistic carnivores marketing indecipherable "choices"....what a Romney-endorsed, privatized replacement program for Medicare would do is forever take away American seniors peace of mind concerning health coverage.

Medicare, as it is, gives seniors peace of mind. Medicare, as it is, does not create insecurity and anxiety in the minds of seniors. Why would anyone think that reversing that peace of mind, security and anxiety in the lives of our seniors.....for the sake of profits.....would be a good thing?

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