Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Paradise ponders, Medicare edition...

Paradise ponders, Medicare edition...  So yesterday Debbie and I visited Sam Winward, our health insurance agent.  He's been very helpful to us the past couple of years, helping us navigate the (many) challenges of Obamacare insurance for older individuals.  Yesterday was the day we'd set aside for him to educate us about Medicare.  I turn 65 this year, so it's time for me to join that system.  Sam told me last year that I was really going to like switching to Medicare, so I wasn't too worried about what I'd learn today.

Though there are a mind-boggling number of options available (unlike with Obamacare!), it didn't take long for us to home in on a low-deductible Part F plan.  While this was the most expensive option available, the price is so low (roughly $400/month for me, $265 of which is the baseline Medicare premium) compared with our current plan, and the benefits so much better, that it was basically a complete no-brainer.  When I say the benefits were so much better, I mean: nationwide network of providers, no deductible, no co-pays, large drug formulary, no caps on hospitalization or physical therapy, and so on. 

How is this even possible at such a low cost?  Well, fundamentally it's because of two things:
  • The baseline Medicare premium is heavily subsidized by the Medicare taxes we all pay on wages.  For me, that's a little over a quarter million dollars over my working life.  That's far more than would be required to subsidize my health insurance, so as an above-average wage earner my taxes subsidizing a lot of other people's insurance as well.
  • The Part F supplemental is mainly insuring against the risk of exceeding the baseline Medicare's caps (especially for hospitalization).  That part of it resembles an old-fashioned major medical policy – the kind of policy I really wish we could have now instead of this #%^(&$# Obamacare policy we have.
Anyway, obviously Sam was right.  The health insurance situation under Medicare is way better than as an ancient Obamacare individual who isn't broke...

Right after that meeting, we went to Los Primos for what is becoming our Tuesday afternoon ritual: a meal of their outstanding beef and vegetable soup.  After we'd seated ourselves, the waitress we see most often (but who wasn't serving us yesterday) came over to say hello.  We ended up having a nice discussion about, of all things, stuffed peppers.  It turns out that stuffed peppers are something of a Salvadoran specialty, and they're making them on Friday.  If they're anything like these, they look great!

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