Wednesday, October 7, 2009

"Health Care" and Politicians: A Marriage Made in Hell

Side has reported before on the subject of Medicare and Medicare Advantage programs. You'll find an opening salvo here.

I come to readers today to assert that granting "elected officials" the authority to meddle, regulate, and otherwise screw with our "health care" system and provisions is probably the dumbest thing we could do.

Why? Well, to begin with, I can't think of hardly anything that becomes better once the government decides to get involved. Many readers will leave me at this point, deciding that I'm a classic "government hating," "tax hating" crank, just like a former town councilor (guess who) labeled me.

That won't fly this time. Any Maine resident who has signed up for Medicare and checked out all the options knows there is a bewildering selection of Advantage plans offered, and that their availability is regulated down to the county level.

Live in Brunswick? Here's the plans you can choose from. Live in Bath? Sorry, your choices are different. How can this be....Medicare is a federal program; how can your options vary depending on your zip code?

Silly as this seems, it's much worse than you think. Mr & Mrs Poppycock spent the last week in another state for a variety of reasons, some of which will be reported on in other items. In particular, we spent two days with recently "retired" friends in New Jersey, which, believe it or not, is actually a part of this country. They just turned 65, and are now Medicare eligible.

As we sipped on a glass of iced tea, I described the Poppycocks' Medicare Advantage program, which costs us nothing extra a month, and provides "supplemental" and prescription coverage.

Our friends told us that Medicare Advantage is not available as an option of any sort in New Jersey. Instead, they each have a "supplement policy" and "Part D" coverage that costs $400 PER PERSON per month in addition to their Medicare Parts A & B coverage.

Wow; that makes a lot of sense. But only if you are a regulator, a bureaucrat, or only a political opportunist.

How the hell can a federal program vary so much from state to state, and from county to county within those states? Shouldn't the concept of a "federal" program mean that it functions the same and provides the same benefits no matter where you live? Would you be happy if your Social Security retirement check amount depended on which state you lived in, and in which county in that state you lived?

I don't think so; and if it did, throngs would be moving to maximize their benefits. Which makes absolutely no sense; no sense at all.

Which leads to the conclusion that government is the crux of the problem.

The practice of congressional district gerrymandering in an effort to perpetuate power is well established. Such shameless practices pale in comparison to screwing with Medicare options in your state and your zip code.

Perhaps some reader is better informed than this reporter, and will correct the record by reporting in on how this very odd arrangement came to be.

Until that happens, and I am compelled to rescind my assertions, I conclude that there is no more ridiculous concept than turning our health care system over to politicians. "Good intentions" are a cover-up for the compulsion to remain in power, and those who believe in the former in the face of the latter are easy prey for the latest "trust me I'm from the government and I'm here to help you" pitch.

Billy Mays may be gone, but there is no shortage of pitchmen plying his trade.

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