Most of us deal with dirty dishes on a pretty regular basis — maybe we wash them, dry them and then put them away. Maybe we wash them and then put them in the dishwasher, which washes and dries them (mostly), and then we put them away.
Maybe we command someone else to do them, then supervise the activity, knowing full well that it will NOT get done adequately without said supervision, or maybe we just move them around in order to have enough room to generate more dirty dishes, secure in the notion that the Dirty Dish Fairy will probably show up tonight to rectify an increasingly critical situation, ignoring the fact that he has NEVER shown up before!
But, one way or the other, we deal with dirty dishes; thus, the casual observer would observe that, since we deal with dirty dishes a lot, we must LIKE dealing with dirty dishes. The Casual Observer would be, with rare exception, WRONG!
Similarly, many folks who actually plow through these non-auto-generated columns observe, “Wow! He talks about health insurance a lot, so he must like health insurance!”
He does NOT like health insurance, but perhaps I’m being too vague: I HATE HEALTH INSURANCE! I hate reading about it, hearing about it, trying to make sense of it and writing about it! It’s WAY too complicated and, generally speaking, isn’t particularly friendly to human beings. It often costs too much, pays too little and is — in fact — rocket science!
I HATE IT!
But, then, I’m not wild about dirty dishes, either, and have absolutely no hope that the Health Insurance Fairy will show up tonight, so on we go. I do this because you have to do it (well, OK, so do I, but I’m feeling like a bit of a martyr, so humor me) and my dedication to improving the Human Condition so outweighs my distaste for a topic that makes slivers and hangnails sound like an agreeable pastime, that I soldier on in the face of insurmountable adversity.
I AM A WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING!
OK, thanks — I feel better. So, now, what did so many of you email me about? Oh, right. Ready? OK:
If you are on Medicare, you do NOT have to deal with the whole “ObamaCare thing” — period. That was the proverbial “good news;” however, if you are on Medicare, you do have to deal with the whole “Medicare thing,” and you know what that was.
As you’ve pointed out, I did do a column a short time back about the whole Part D “open enrollment” exercise, but it kind of got lost in the ObamaCare onslaught, so maybe I should back up to the view from 30,000 feet.
Four days ago (Oct. 15), what most of us call “open enrollment” (for MEDICARE) began, and it will persist until Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7. Sometimes it’s called the “open enrollment period,” sometimes it’s called the “open election period” and sometimes it’s called a great deal more than that, but what it amounts to is the time of the year when we Medicare-types can make changes in our Part D and/or Advantage plans.
“Part D plans” are our stand-alone prescription drug coverage plans. “Advantage plans” are our more comprehensive, kinda-like-HMO plans; so, from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, we can make changes without having anything bad (with the possible exception of a migraine) happen to us. Here’s what we CAN do:
1. Compare our current plans to other plans, using the plan finder on medicare.gov;
2. Join, switch or drop a Part D plan;
3. Join, switch or drop an Advantage plan, which are sometimes referred to as “Part C” plans, in hopes of fooling you;
4. Drop an Advantage plan and enroll in “original Medicare,” which is sometimes referred to as “OM” because, apparently, it takes too long to say “original Medicare.”
What we can’t (or SHOULDN’T) do is:
1. Enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan IF we already have an Advantage plan that includes drug coverage, because we will be summarily disenrolled from said Advantage plan and automatically enrolled in OM! Now, if that’s what you want to do, great! But, if it isn’t…
2. Enroll in an Advantage (Part C) plan IF you have End-Stage Renal Disease!
3. Drop your Medicare and enroll in a healthcare plan on HealthPlanFinder through the Exchange because…Right! That’s ObamaCare and we don’t care! (Kinda makes you want to sing “Jimmy Crack Corn,” huh? OK, maybe not.)
That’s it! Wasn’t that easy? Who needs a Health Insurance Fairy, huh?
OK, OK! You can call any of the numbers at the end of the column for help — good, free help that will NOT try to sell you anything, I promise.
Seriously, it does make sense to go “shopping” every year because plans and premiums and formularies change, and health insurance that doesn’t cover what we need it to cover is even MORE frustrating than health insurance that does!
OK? This is doable and there is help available and it is in your best interests; now, having fulfilled my obligations as a WONDERFUL HUMAN BEING, I’m going to go set a booby-trap for the Health Insurance Fairy…
…and enjoy every moment of it.
Mark Harvey is the director of Information and Assistance for Olympic Area Agency on Aging. He can be reached at email@example.com or 532-0520 in Aberdeen, (360) 942-2177 in Raymond or (360) 642-3634. FACEBOOK: Olympic Area Agency on Aging-Information & Assistance.