my jaundiced eye

the absurdities of life

Category: aging

medicare/rx sux

medicare:rx sux

I just received, via the failing us postal service, my most recent medicare/rx supplemental insurance statement which shows that my plan has paid precisely zero toward any of my prescriptions this year. Yet this coverage is, according to the incessant anxiety inducing advertisements, the only thing standing between me and the monstrous vortex of the dreaded “prescription donut hole” that will suck my bank account dry and leave me lying destitute and infirm on the side of the road clutching a tattered cardboard sign that reads “will work for plavix if I don’t stroke out first.”

So, I pay about $600 a year in premiums, with a $405 annual deductible…so just from the get go MJE is out a cool thousand bucks. As any typical overmedicated boomer, I ingest at least five prescription meds daily, as well as a few almost certainly useless nutritional supplements primarily to offset the results of ingrained unhealthy lifestyle choices, which I have no intention of changing.

So in order to try to sort out the vexing question of why am I spending money on supplemental insurance, which does not appear to supplement anything, I went in search of some answers, However, the federal government, which administers medicare has, in the interest of cutting government spending, deleted customer service entirely. This move, in addition to reducing governmental employee salaries and benefits, offers the added benefit of hastening the demise of legions of doddering lowlifes living off the government’s pharmaceutical tit. But my third party insurance provider, recommended by none other than the esteemed aarp, still employs customer service agents who do ultimately pick up the phone, but not before subjecting callers to a muzak loop obviously intended to force them to hang up and speed dial dr kevorkian instead.

However, MJE don’t scare that easy…I finally got connected to j joey who assured me most heartily that he could without a doubt answer any and all of my questions to my full and complete satisfaction. And true to his word he provided a lengthy and intricate explanation of exactly how each perceived expense had actually been a benefit that actively reduced my deductible, which currently stands at $35.97 thanks to my having spent $369.03 in cold hard cash.  I then got an unsolicited tutorial on the pricing tiers of various medications should the elusive deductible ever be realized: tier 1 for example would only cost $1 for a 30 day supply, tier 2 would cost $3 for a 30 day supply and so forth. As the tiers get higher the formulas revert to random percentage coverages, which are then sliced into tranches, bundled with other medication pricing structures and sold as derivatives on the big pharma futures markets.

So according to the gospel of joey, two of my meds are tier 1, (theoretically cheap), one med was tier 2 (less cheap theoretically) should I ever meet my deductible, which unfortunately lies somewhere between the end of the rainbow and my shallow grave. My three other widely prescribed medications are not covered at all. The good news is that the pharmacy I use is not a preferred vendor so my costs are much higher. Why is that good news…because in the through the looking glass reality of insuranceland the more expensive the drug the faster I will be able to claw my way to the top of mount deductible!

When I suggested that perhaps I should look for another rx supplement provider, joey patronizingly advised me to simply take different meds. Well, that was the pill that broke this camel’s back. MJE’s response was as follows, “You sound as though you are about 22 years old and since you’re working the graveyard shift (in whatever your time zone is) at an insurance company customer service desk I’m gonna guess that you haven’t been to either pharmacy or medical school. And furthermore you are most likely not suffering from high blood pressure, high cholesterol, anxiety, depression, arthritis, bursitis, fallen arches, bleeding gums, tingling in your hands and feet, dry skin, memory loss, or swollen ankles, just to name a few common afflictions of your client base. So please leave the prescribing to the professionals and stick to convincing your pathetic geriatric medicare dependent customers that they are not being taken to the cleaners by your employer, you little prick.”

To which he replied “Thank you ma’am for that excellent feedback which I will certainly pass on to my supervisor, and have a wonderful rest of your day.”

 

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medicare ma

medicare-ma

MJE just “enjoyed” another birthday. It was actually pretty great, my sistahood feted me with a wonderful surprise party. I ended the evening wearing a napkin wimple, a palm frond crown like the lemur king in madagascar and a pink sequined bra. I will leave the rest of it up to your depraved imaginations you sickos.

The next day, after a somewhat ragged morning I received an email from medicare ma letting me know what wonderful things she was bestowing upon me to keep me hale and hearty:

Name Eligibility Date
PAP TEST DR 02/01/2018
PELVIC 02/01/2018
ANNUAL WELLNESS VISIT 02/01/2017
ALCOHOL MISUSE SCREENING 01/01/2016
DEPRESSION SCREENING 01/01/2016
HIGH INTENSITY BEHAVIORAL COUNSELING 01/01/2016
OBESITY COUNSELING 01/01/2016
CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE (BEHAVIORAL THERAPY) 01/01/2016
MAMMOGRAPHY 01/01/2016
COLORECTAL 01/01/2016
PAP TEST 01/01/2016
ABDOMINAL AORTIC ANEURYSM 01/01/2016
DIABETES 01/01/2016
CARDIOVASCULAR 01/01/2016

Well if that didn’t let the air out of my balloon I don’t know what would. It started out happy enough…annual wellness visit. Great! But it turns out that ma suspects that I am actually far from 100% given the rest of the recommended tests and screenings. I had no idea I was at such high risk for so many afflictions. Plus I am a year late on most of them which does explain a thing or two.

Alcohol misuse screening: MJE uses ethyl alcohol exactly as it was intended.

Depression screening: Not until I saw the above list.

High intensity behavioral counseling: I have no idea what that even means. Am I low intensity (or in PET’s words “low energy”)? It is true that I haven’t been exercising as much as I should which is probably why ma feels I might be in need of the obesity counseling.

Cardiovascular disease behavioral therapy: I hope that doesn’t mean I have to lay off the triple cream brie, butter and foie gras. If so I really don’t see the point in going on.

Mammography: Ma’s a day late and a dollar short on that one as you know if you’ve been a loyal MJE follower. And if she truly cared she’d know that too.

Colorectal: Ha ha, already did the crap in a box thing (ask your doc, it’s so much better than a colonoscopy, and I might add a real testament to american ingenuity) and I’m clean as a whistle.

Pap test (twice!) AND pelvic: Seriously? a speculum is the only thing that’s been in that neck of the woods for ages.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm: Does that mean that ma suspects that my stomach is about to blow? Yikes, better haul out the spanxs.

Diabetes: The only sugar I ingest can be attributed to the above proper use of alcohol.

Then one more cardiovascular something or other which I thought we took care of with the aforementioned behavioral therapy.

What about the fact that I am blind as a bat, deaf as a post and walk like chester in gunsmoke because of the arthritis in my hip. Or that my skin is thinner than japanese mulberry paper and I bruise like a week old banana. Or that my brain is like a magic 8 ball and every effort to remember anything results in “perhaps but ask again” or “signs point to yes” or “very doubtful” which is decidedly unhelpful when trying to find my glasses or think of my grandchildren’s names. What about those things ma? What about quality of life, huh? Why are you so focused on stuff like exploding abs and behavioral therapy for my heart, which frankly could use it as it has been in intensive care since nov. 8.

I appreciate your concern, but MJE’s got it all covered. Don’t need you to tell me how to behave, or what to eat or drink. I’ve made it so far without your “support” and suspect that I’ll manage to hang on for a few more years. Now if you would care to cover important things like botox, liposuction or facial peels then I am all ears.

is it now yet

is it now yet

I was shopping online for a new wall clock for our kitchen. It’s been 3:27 pm for the last two weeks and even though I know that before I even look at the damned thing I am still caught off guard every time. It’s like when I’ve used the last staple in my stapler, and get that empty click sound. I know it’s bound to happen sometime but it always irritates me to the point of wanting to crush the thing with a shovel. But back to the subject at hand, so MJE is finger walking the aisles of amazon when I come across this ad at the top of the page:

Pointells Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Memory Loss Clock

It sort of makes it sound like it’s a clock that counts down to when you will be stricken with the above afflictions. Talk about a bummer appliance. But with that provocative come on, who could resist double clicking on it just to clarify? Unless of course you are already suffering from dementia, alzheimer’s or memory problems, which obviously I am not. Am I? Well sort of, but my mental lapses, if any, are most likely the result of being a seasoned sot.

The full description of the aforementioned clock is as follows:

Pointells Extra-Large Digital Calendar Day Clock with Non-Abbreviated Day, Month & Date – Ideal Clock for the Elderly & Those Struggling with Memory Loss

Talk about a dynamite marketing strategy! Who doesn’t have some old fart or brainless wonder you need to shop for? Think how thrilled the recipient of this thoughtful gift will be when they read (in extra large type) for whom this clock was created.

Perfect for your mother-in-law.

death defying decisions

death defying decisons-1

MJE is by nature pretty controlling, not to an unpleasant degree mind you but I just like to be in the driver’s seat as often as possible. So, sticking with the automotive analogy, when my car starts petering out I want to make sure that the mechanic doesn’t do something stupid, unnecessary and expensive when it just isn’t going to make the car last any longer. To wit, I’ve been perusing materials pertaining to end of life (human not automotive) decisions.

Well it turns out it’s a bit more complicated than I thought. Fortunately, there is a 26 page guide and questionnaire put out by the Death, Near Death and Certain Death Society that those of us who are not immortal should consider completing and sharing with our doctors and health care proxies. Given the subject matter the title is catchy and upbeat, “The Tool Kit for a Better Death!” It’s divided into nine sections, or “tools” for you to keep in your “death toolbox. “ For example Tool #2 is “Are Some Conditions Worse than Death?” Hell yes, the OB&C’s family reunion I have to host in May. There are a lot of “What If” questions like “If you are in severe or untreatable pain on a scale of 1 to 5 do you “Definitely Want Treatment or “Definitely Do Not Want Treatment.” Really? Who the hell is going to say I definitely do not want treatment except maybe members of Masochistics Anonymous. Or “How Do You Weigh Yours Odds of Survival” well last time I checked no one is getting out of here alive so I’d say 0% on that one. Tool #5 is “After Death Decisions to Think About Now”, isn’t that an oxymoron, how can I think about them now when I am alive when they are decisions to be made after death? Tool #6 includes a helpful section entitled “Five Times to Re-examine Your Death Wishes…” It’s the five D’s: Decade, Death, Divorce, Diagnosis and Decline. Seems like one of those might be a day late and a dollar short so I recommend sticking to just four of the D’s.

FYI, there’s a quiz at the end so pay attention!