Remembering When the Old Was New Senior Living

| 19 Nov 2015 | 12:55

I’d been wondering why so many ads on TV are for adult diapers and various medications that are often taken by older people, and I’m not just talking about Viagra and Cialis.

A friend of mine pointed out that TV is heading the same place wall phones went (except mine). Young people are using social media and getting their entertainment through Netflix, streaming and other devices I’ve never even heard of, and they’re using their tablets, smart phones and laptops to see movies, play games and do whatever else it is that this generation does.

I remember getting our first TV when I was about eight. It was a huge, black and white console and took up a large part of our living room. The cat sat in a basket on top. I watched Howdy Doody, Sid Caesar and Milton Berle with my family, and of course the Brooklyn Dodgers, my passion. Otherwise I watched mostly static.

Oh where has my world gone? Everything I saw come into being is fading away. I first worked on an enormous mainframe computer and had to memorize a huge instruction book. I then used MS DOS at work and learned commands, many of which I still use. Then came the mouse, which at first I hated. I never even would have learned the computer if my jobs hadn’t demanded it. A lot of tears flowed learning one program after another. And now desktops and TVs are becoming obsolete. I saw them born! It feels like the world is whirling by and I am not whirling with it.

Recently I was talking to a bunch of friends about the state of health care for the elderly in America. We have a special interest in the topic, all of us being somewhat elderly. One of my friends came home from vacation to find a letter telling her that her Medicare Advantage Plan was ending beginning January, 2016. All of her efforts to join a similar plan have been subtly rebuffed; phone calls not returned, questions not answered. I know she feels that this is because she and her husband are older and of course more likely to become ill in the not-so-distant future. She had been satisfied with Medicare Advantage, which I’ve avoided because when I worked I had HMOs and decided I didn’t want one when I retired. So I’ve been on regular Medicare for a long time, which means I need a supplementary plan and of course a drug plan. Lots of deductibles and co-pays.

My friend has to now decide what to do: find another Medicare Advantage plan or go to regular Medicare. It’s so hard to know what is best, there are so many different choices and there are benefits and sacrifices in all of them. Medicare Advantage plans can close down, but it’s getting harder and harder to find a doctor who will take regular Medicare. Whenever I call a doctor’s office the first thing I ask is “Do you take Medicare?” If no, I say thank you and hang up.

If you’re new to Medicare, you’re in for some fun. Just try to decide between Plan A and Plan J, not to mention all the plans in between. And that’s only regular Medicare; I’m not versed in what goes into choosing a Medicare Advantage plan. I do, however, change my Medicare Supplement Plan depending on which Plan B is cheapest for that year (Plan B is the one I chose). Regular Medicare only pays 80% of hospital bills, so having a Supplement is necessary. All the plans from A to J are the same by law so go for the cheapest. Plan A offers the basic coverage and plan J lots of extras but it doesn’t matter which insurance company you choose. It’s worth a little research time to save a few bucks. And as for drug coverage, which is separate, if you’re on regular Medicare, each insurance company sends a booklet with the upcoming year’s approved drugs, and sometimes it does change from year to year.

One other factlet. I’d been filling my prescriptions at one neighborhood pharmacy when my prescriptions seemed rather expensive since I’d already paid my deductible. When I called my insurance company, I found out that my pharmacy was no longer an “approved pharmacy” for them, and they gave me a list of which ones were on their approved list. I immediately changed drugstores (my neighborhood is filled with them) and started saving money. Keep your eyes and ears open for this kind of stuff. No one’s going to tell you.

If this is all just a bit too much information, be thankful you’re old enough not to have to choose an Obamacare plan. That’s even more complicated. Mostly, I do appreciate Medicare. The country would be well-served to copy the idea of a government system.