I’ve made a decision, but will it matter in the long run?
A month ago I planned to sign up for a Platinum Blue Cost plan offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota. It seemed to promise a relatively easy transition into Medicare with the option of switching to the Senior Gold Supplemental plan within 12 months with no health questions. I believe that longterm Senior Gold is a safer plan for me because it covers all Medicare providers, guarantees no reduction in benefits, and provides better coverage when I am out of state. Unfortunately it is more expensive, mandates the use of Competitive Bidding suppliers, and requires the purchase of a separate drug plan. It should be okay for me to start on Platinum Blue and then switch to Senior Gold for 2018, but the BCBS rep has not been able to give me a link within the policy guaranteeing the ability to switch. I don’t trust anyone in today’s healthcare environment and I’ve decided to dive headfirst into Senior Gold and traditional Medicare.
Like most people living with a chronic medical condition, I am stressed to the max considering the present and future of healthcare in the United States. I am working to stay informed and involved in advocacy while protecting myself from going batshit crazy. I am rationing Facebook time, newspaper reading, and TV news. I am not worried that I will ever be in the position of having no access to some level of diabetes care. It may not be a state-of-the-art insulin pump and CGM, but I have to believe that I will always have access to insulin. I worry for other seniors who do not have the resources than I have. I worry for younger people as the protections of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are repealed without a plan for the future. I worry that some of our elected representatives are more interested in reducing healthcare costs by limiting access to care rather than reining in costs, particularly drug costs.
The future of Medicare is a big unknown and I have read articles that suggest that the repeal of the ACA and changes to Medicaid will precede any major changes to Medicare. At the same time Tom Price, Trump’s cabinet nominee for the Department of Health and Human Services, is in favor of privatizing Medicare and House Speaker Paul Ryan has pledged to reform Medicare in 2017. A recent article in Forbes suggested that Trump might surprise everyone and come out in support of MFA (Medicare for All). So who knows? All I know is that we are in for a wild ride and probably not a ride that will be fun for people with pre-existing health conditions. I will enter Medicare trying to make the best choices I can while knowing that my choices might not matter at all as we move into a crapshoot future.
I haven’t selected a Part D drug plan yet. I currently take three drugs, four if you include insulin. Two have good coverage with any plan. The third is well-covered as a Tier 2 generic drug in the BCBS Platinum Blue formulary. Unfortunately this same drug is non-formulary and/or covered poorly in Part D plans. It’s been a good drug for me but not so great that I won’t be willing to switch to something more affordable.
I have received notification from SSA that I have been accepted into Parts A and B of Medicare. I have not yet received my Medicare card and that is required before I can apply for a supplemental or drug plan.
I am not dreading Medicare as much as when I started this series almost a year ago. I know some people with Type 1 diabetes who are thriving on Medicare and have learned to navigate the system to get the care and supplies they need. I know others who live on a 90-day cycle of frustration and fear as they repeatedly run into roadblocks getting test strips, insulin, and pump supplies. I know that I will go crazy when things don’t happen the way I expect and I will scream at automated phone menus. But I choose to be optimistic that I will get everything figured out. That might be blind, stupid optimism and I reserve the right to change my tune at any point in the future and start cursing and howling at the moon.
I think of you and this issue often and am glad to read your optimism here! And on a totally unrelated note, my FitBit died right after your announcement of a break. The hubs gifted me a choice of a new Fitbit for my recent birthday and while I’m considering whether or not I want to go back, I can say I miss the little banter during challenges and the feeling of connected to my T1D friends and visions of your long hikes. Did you ever go back? Fighting the crazy here in Cincy. Be well, Laddie!
My Fitbit One died about 10 days ago. I went without a tracker for about a week and found I really missed it. I have an iPhone that kind of keeps track of steps but I prefer how the info is presented with Fitbit. I do not miss Fitbit challenges although they were fun when I was involved. I have a lot of self-motivation with the Fitbit and it is also a nice pat on the head after active days. I was too cheap to buy another Fitbit One and went back to the Zip. Because I wear an Apple Watch and a medical alert bracelet, I don’t want a Fitbit bracelet. Thanks for reading and commenting.
Laddie, is Senior Gold Minnesota’s version of United Healthcare? My husband had it last year and remained with it this year. He changed his Part D provider, Cigna- Healthspring RX, because he didn’t meet the Medicare deductible so he paid the full portion of his prescriptions all year in addition to paying the $47.60 monthly premium. This year he has OptumRX and gets his prescriptions through the mail with Walgreens as tier one with a zero copay and the monthly premium is cheaper. I have confidence that you will take your time and weigh your options carefully before picking a plan.
I cannot imagine selecting a medication plan. I know I will have to do it, but oh my goodness. Taking 16 prescription medications just makes it seem impossible to figure out what to do. I may need a paid consultant to select the prescription plan when the time comes.