Snippets with Beth Jacks

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 5, 2009

Beth Jacks Snippets

Writer none to happy about becoming eligible for Medicare benefits

Every year about this time, I happily share that I shall soon be one year older. A proud Capricorn (or, according to hubby G-Man, an “old goat”), I hesitate to broadcast that bit of news for 2009 because this particular birthday is one of the traumatic ones. I am now Medicare-eligible.

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Being Medicare-eligible does not translate into being signed, sealed and delivered. I have spent several weeks trying to figure out my “drug plan,” and if you’ve not walked in my totally confused shoes, let me warn you, the hike ain’t pretty.

My frustration has spilled over into our marital relations – not that any of this is G-Man’s fault, but I’m afraid he’s going to find he’s got the wrong goat by the ear if he yips one more time, “Get on a drug plan! Get on a drug plan!”

Well, it’s unfortunate that part of getting on a drug plan requires filling out three pages of questions. I can do that, I’ve done it before, but never have I done it when I was asked to copy sections of the information straight from a Medicare card. How hard is that? Very . . . when the card is lost.

So several days ago I sped to the Social Security office to ask for a new card. They were friendly and helpful, quickly informing me that a new card will probably take several weeks to process.

Could they, I wondered, just put the info on an index card and sign it? No, this is official government business, probably utilizing the services of two dozen clerks and one hundred computers somewhere off in government-land.

Could they, maybe, whisper my new number? And tell me whether the boxes on the card say I’m an A or a B? I won’t tell anybody but the folks who read the drug plan forms.

Nope. Not that, either.

So, I’m stymied till the new card comes in, and all the while G-Man fumes because I waited till the last minute to tend to this important bit of pharmaceutical business.

But wait, I said to him. Why is this so all-fired important when I don’t take any medicine? He said I do, and I said, “Well, one.” And actually I was fibbing; I take two pills every morning before breakfast, but I’m about to drop one, I think. And there’s this monthly fee to get on the Medicare drug plan of choice – a fee that undoubtedly will run more than my thirty little white pills.

Then he argued that at my age (!) – I’m six months older than he is – anything could happen and I must be prepared. Turning 65 is fraught with peril, he said. At that moment I dared not reveal to this man the thoughts in my head. [Hint: Really sharp butcher knife.]

Oh, I know he is concerned about my well-being, but I remember nothing in the marriage contract that said I had to tend to complicated business like Medicare drug plans. Can’t I simply grow old in a less nerve-tangling manner? Why do I have to keep up with teeny boring Medicare cards that don’t even feature attractive graphics? And why does the government have to use so many numbers and letters and symbols and forms and boxes, bombarding me with perplexing questions and instructions?

Headache, begone!

I’ve an excellent idea. Let’s fast-forward six months and watch G-Man attempt to enroll in a [censored] Medicare drug plan. I will refuse to share the wisdom gained from my recent experience. Everybody should have to go through this at least once, and I wouldn’t think of denying him the opportunity.

And long about the first of June I’ll start harping, “Get on a drug plan! Get on a drug plan!” Maybe my new card will be here by then and G-Man and I together can get on a drug plan, which I’ve decided will be one of the AARP programs.

Oh, hush. If you chuckled at that AARP reference I wish you multiple missing Medicare cards and one fussing spouse. I promise, it’s a heckuva way to add fireworks to your birthday celebration.