Thursday, August 21, 2014

Talking About My (De)Generation

There are a lot of us on Medicare right now, with more to come. I've been dubious about this blessing from the very onset but was persuaded to sign up for Plan B and then for the insurance company that would administrate this for me. Every month I pay $104 and every month I continue to bask in rude health--but, as friends pointed out, this could change at any time. Prudence demanded that I make that payment and for once in my life, I decided to be prudent.

By mid-September I will have paid $1000 for unused medical benefits, so recently I decided it would be a fine idea to have a checkup done, my first in thirteen years. It was basic to the nth degree, weight, eye chart, breast exam, Pap smear, a couple of immunizations, and cholesterol and colon lab work.

This basic examination would have cost $728--were it not for the Medicare discount, which brought the exam total to $329.49, which was paid by Medicare. What wasn't covered was a vaccine for tetanus, diptheria, and pertussis, which clocked in at $86, to be paid by me. Fortunately the $137 pneumonia vaccine was covered, which I appreciate but find illogical--why one and not the other?

Then there is the lab work. A $95 analysis (brought down to $19.06 by the Medicare discount) was covered. Another, sent to another lab and billed at an undiscounted rate of $140, was not. This brings the total cost of my basic checkup to $226, a mere $103.49 less than my entire (discounted) checkup.

Feeling curious, I went to the website of the hospital I very occasionally went to when I lived in Bangkok. This is what I would receive for $248 at Paolo Memorial
It includes a vision exam by an opthamologist, which in this country I have to make a separate visit to obtain.

For $21 more than what I will pay for a lab test and a vaccine here, I would be given a comprehensive exam in Bangkok.

Since my health is exemplary, according to this recent checkup, I'm so tempted to tell Medicare to take me off their stupid Plan B and then put that money aside for an annual air ticket. That $1200 would get me to Bangkok and back--and pay for my physical, perhaps even a spot of dentistry. This is absurd and I resent supporting this idiocy any longer.


Sherry said...

Well... being more or less in the same boat and feeling more or less like I'm being ripped off every month with the deduction for medicare from my SSI and my Plan B payment.. I'm still glad to finally have some form of health insurance after all these years. I sprained my ankle this May and having finally rec'd the Medicare summary a couple weeks ago (this is August, right?) I think I owe my annual deductible of $147.00 on an almost $1,000.00 bill. But I have yet to receive an actual bill from the hospital or any word from my Plan B carrier... What it says to me is: Care is exorbitant. The whole damn system is SLOW. There really must be a better way for this to work. And I still don't like going to the Dr... Why does it have to be so complicated? I will tell you that I got my final flu and Shingles vacs for free and they would have been over $200. My DPT and pneumonia vacs were a very reasonable $17. because I went to the Public Health center for them.. Also finally gave in and got real glasses instead of readers for a very reasonable price from Wally World. Hate to admit it... but I called all around and they really were the best cost and good service & replacement policy. So all in all, a venerable Hallmark mug summed it up years ago, "Growing old is pigeon poop."

Sherry said...

Published before I could properly proof due to user error on my part! So you get the idea..... I hope

Janet Brown said...

It is indubitably complicated and it is obscenely expensive. But you could give seminars on how to find reasonable maintenance without (too many) tears. I'd pay for that!

Birdman said...

I cancelled my $20 a month dental insurance for the exact reasons that you describe. My wife and I were getting our teeth cleaned twice a year for $240. And the implant I could use had only 50% coverage putting the cost at identical to cost in Thailand with zero coverage. Medicare benefits I have studied a bit. What you are paying for is major medical and 90 days hospital coverage at 100%. I'd be very leery of anyone cancelling their Medicare Part B even if you do live in Thailand a lot. Unless you lived there 100% of the time. And even then it behooves one to keep because major surgeries in Thailand are not cheap and they will often want proof of payment before starting or continuing service. In other words the option of flying home for surgery is best preserved. Think carefully on this one. And Medicare also has excellent Hospice coverage (think morphine here), which many people need before the final curtain goes down.Good luck. Kevin in California

Janet Brown said...

Thanks, Kevin. This is the clearest exposition of Medicare that I've seen yet. I'll keep it.