Why Seniors Should Shut Up About Health Care Reform

by Admin on March 17, 2010 · 1 comment

in News, Patients, Payers, Providers

Standing on a line at the post office yesterday,I overheard two elderly people  having a conversation about the significance of reduced hours at the post office. One remarked that it was an inconvenience and meant the country was going to the dogs.  The other said snidely, “wait until we have Obamacare; we will be a third world country.”

They seemed to feel that any effort to alter the health insurance strategy of the country would negatively affect them — and perhaps it would. The cuts would come out of Medicare Advantage, and from savings of waste and fraud. I don’t belong to Medicare Advantage, because I know it’s a drain on the system and a boon to insurers.  Seniors might lose dental, vision, and preventive care if the reforms pass. I choose to pay for those myself, because they are a minor part of the health care services I use. But perhaps some seniors can’t afford to pay out of pocket at all. Those people still receive baseline services.

So I think it’s about time seniors, who vote in large numbers, stop thinking about themselves and start thinking about what would be left for their children and grandchildren. We don’t just pull up the draw bridge when we have our own piece of the pie. If we do, we’re not a civilized society; we’re not even an aboriginal tribe. Even tribes take care of their own members.

I have two children, a grandchild, and four foster children. My own children have health care, one through her employer. She never uses it because she’s healthy and never meets the deductible. My other child is self-employed, and uses her insurance as little as possible, because she has a very high co-pay. Neither one of them has or uses preventive care benefits, or dental and vision.

My former foster children are now all adult wage-earners, but they’re not as fortunate. None of them have health benefits through an employer. One has a catastrophic policy through his wife’s employer, but with $1000 co-pay neither of them can afford to use the insurance. Another can’t afford her share of the premiums for the policy offered by Starbucks.. One is on Medicaid because her job is part-time and she has no children. Another has been told recently that his company is no longer hiring full time and that he will be kept on as a “temporary” employee — presumably so his company won’t have to pay benefits.

These people are the future. They have no vision, no dental, and no preventive care. And they will be alive much longer than I will.

It’s pretty amusing to me to watch seniors who should have been concerned about preventive care thirty years ago grumble about potentially losing those wellness benefits when they (we) are already at a time in our lives when almost nothing can be prevented. Moreover, seniors stand to gain prescription drug benefits (the closing of the donut hole), which are far more financially significant than a gym membership; a Silver Sneakers program will not turn the tide for us. And yet we are willing to be selfish enough to hang on to every benefit we possibly can, at the expense of those coming after us.

In my own case, I’m happy to share my taxes, my benefits, whatever I have with my children and their children.



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