Thursday, April 06, 2006

Medicare Part D was designed to fail

First you are asked to choose which, from about 40 plans with "...different premiums, co-payments, deductibles and formularies", is the plan that will meet your needs for the next twelve months. This is a decision which it almost impossible for healthy and well educated people to make. Someone who is elderly, ill and/or not very educated or not a native English speaker will find this part of the process impossible to deal with.

But you make the decision, and adapt to the many restrictions and poorly implemented unique administration procedures demanded by the company you did finally choose. You are locked in to that plan until next January first. Then comes the kicker.

The company you chose changes the formulary they offer, effective June 1, 2006. Half the medications you take for your chronic high-blood pressure or other illness are no longer offered. Nor is it just half the medications you take. It's the most expensive and most effective half of the medications you take.

Jeff Cruz at TPM Cafe points out that
"The Philadelphia region's largest insurer, Independence Blue Cross, has demonstrated this ability by announcing it will make 22 changes in drugs covered starting June 1st."
OK. So you had been getting medications 60% cheaper by getting them from Canada. You can go back to that, right?

Nope. The federal government has cracked down on medications being shipped in from Canada. Instead of the medications you have already paid for you get a letter from the Department of Homeland Security. They are "protecting you" by not leting you get the medications you need to survive at a price that, while difficult to pay, is not ridiculously high.

The prices you pay here in the states are too high because as an individual, you do not have the power to negotiate prices with the Pharmaceutical Companies. But with so many seniors banded together and getting medications through Medicare, Part D, it is possible for Medicare to do what the Veteran's Administration does and negotiate to get the best price the pharmaceutical companies give to any other customer, right?

Nope. The law establishing Part D forbids Medicare from negotiating prices with the pharmaceutical companies.

Hey! You wouldn't want the Pharmaceutical Companies to get lower prices so that they can't afford all those very expensive advertisements we all see on television, would you? Your health depnds on those advertisements. Doesn't it? No? Well, the extremely high salary and bonuses received by the CEO might suffer, and we wouldn't want that, would we? I mean, should we really expect him to take a pay cut just so we can live longer with a better quality of life? How selfish are you anyway?

Really! Do you think that Medicare Part D was designed to help seniors to actually get the medications they need at reasonable prices? Of course not. It was written by Pharmaceutical Company Lobbyists to increase Pharmaceutical Company revenues. That's what free enterprise does!

This was a plan designed by Congress to fail.

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