If you’re on Medicare, that’s the message you’re getting.
Out-of-pocket costs of Medicare have been going up annually, with ever-higher deductibles and premiums and a massive doughnut hole in prescription coverage that like the energizer bunny just keeps going and going and going. Many of the most fundamental, critical medications aren’t covered at all — emergency and other inhalers for asthma sufferers, nitroglycerin, newer antibiotics. Out-of-pockets costs are terrifying. Now, they’ve added a new twist. Something special to make us feel the love.
I had my semi-annual physical a few weeks ago. These are supposed to be no-cost, no deductible preventative visits. Included in the visit were some standard blood tests and vaccinations. Three of the vaccinations were boosters to the vaccinations we got as children: polio, tetanus, diphtheria, whooping-cough (which is making a come-back). One was against shingles, which apparently is an issue for anyone over 60 who had chicken pox.
When I got my statement from Medicare, I expected to find maybe $20 due for the lab. Instead, there was an outstanding balance of $464, all for vaccinations. More than $300 of those dollars was for the shingles vaccine. No way can I come up with this amount of money on our fixed income.
Medicare had covered none of it. It said my “other insurance” (what other insurance? I’m on a Medicare PPO Advantage plan) didn’t pay anything either.
When my husband’s Medicare statement for his physical arrived, there was another $265 for vaccinations, all boosters. I compared the statements. Garry is not on an advantage plan. He’s on straight Medicare with a “Medigap” policy that never seems to pay anything no matter what the claim.
That was when I realized how they’d done it. Vaccinations are no longer a medical expense. They are prescription medication.
Medicare reclassified vaccinations as prescription medication so they now fall under Medicare Part D. None of the prescription plans ever have — or ever will — cover vaccinations.
Medicare decided it’s cheaper to let old people get sick (maybe they’ll die and save even more money) than to vaccinate them against disease. Because while millions might avail themselves of preventative measures (we are old, not stupid), many fewer will actually contract the illness. Cost analysis won.
I’m so angry, so upset, I’ve been waking up early in the morning already in a rage. Brooding on the kind of mentality which leaves us — people who worked our whole lives and paid tons of money into this system — vulnerable because our government has misused our funds.
I will not go into the history of this mess, except to say it started under Reagan, and has continued apace. With everyone crying crocodile tears over Medicare — while spending the money earmarked to keep us safe in our senior years.
Meanwhile, I’ve got about $700 of medical bills I have no idea how to pay. They never said they won’t pay for vaccinations. They just reclassified them as “medication,” knowing full well that no plan would pay for it. No Medigap plan covers prescriptions, so you are well and truly screwed.
Ever since I turned 65, it’s been a downhill slide.
The day I turned 65, I was dumped by MassHealth (Medicaid). I hoped I’d be protected by my disabled status. I’d been on disability for years which was why I was entitled to MassHealth.
No problem getting around that. Social Security simply reclassified (sound familiar?) me. I’m just old, not disabled. They switched me to standard Social Security. I get the same monthly money, but without medical protection. They also lowered the poverty guidelines so we no longer qualify for the extra help on prescriptions.
“Why don’t you just die already? Stop using up valuable resources.”
Obviously, we’ve outlived our usefulness. So how come we are not dead yet?
When did the United States become such a mean-spirited country? When did we decide it would be better for us to get sick or die rather than give us proper care? How did we come to this? Who are we?
I get the message. Just die already. If you are not outraged, you must think somehow this will never affect you. Think again.
NOTE: Well said, for all of us — of a certain age. The old man was right!
“Generosity. That was my first mistake.” Obviously, not my last.
Apparently we have outlived our value to the society we served so long and so well. You are welcome.