POLICY/POLITICS: Linking Katrina, Medicare Part D and bird Flu

Here’s my FierceHealthcare editorial today:

FierceHealthcare has been following two stories all year that both had big moments this week. One is the avian flu that’s been popping up in Asia and may end up being as deadly as the 1918 epidemic. The other is the new Medicare Part D roll-out. For Medicare Part D, the complex mix of plans being offered to seniors will test their ability to understand the options on hand — anyone who’s bought insurance in the individual market knows that’s not easy — and will also challenge the Federal government’s ability to run and police a complex program with many different private and public agencies taking part. Given the nation’s recent experience with a similar challenge on the Gulf Coast, we can be forgiven for looking at the Medicare roll-out as the next great test of government, and hope that it shows improvement. Especially if we have a real crisis in the near future if avian flu becomes the pandemic we all fear.

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4 replies »

  1. It could be just plane incompetence or on the other hand If current administration wants to” privatize” (dismantle) social security this is a good way to start doing it.

  2. Medicare part D is intended to be confusing. This insurance coverage will pay for a percentage of some, but not all, of the medication expenses for that recipient.
    In order to obtain this unclear benefit, the recipient must figure out which plan will be the most beneficial, and select that plan. This assumes that a person of medicare age is able to gather all of the medicines that they take, understand the price of each, and then select the plan that covers the majority of the medicines that they take. This decision process reminds me more of high school calculus than any type of senior education class that I have ever read about.
    The next and most obsurd assumption is that all of these medicines will stay the same for the rest of their life (or perhaps even that year).
    This plan is supposed to be confusing. The groups that benefit from the confusion are:
    1. Government. The government will be giving the people the prescription coverage that they want and need.(sarcasm)
    2. The phamaceutical industry. The benefit here is that price reductions are not being discussed at all.
    The plan accepts the money from the recipient and the government, and the price of the medication is not negotiated.
    All this to the detriment of the entire population, not just the seniors.

  3. Matthew, I spent a long time last night reviewing the Medicare Handbook for 2006/Part D. I have a college degree but am confuseled and befuddled. This Plan holds out the threat that if one doesn’t join now they will forevermore be penallized up to 6%. The govt. is also telling people now they cannot join another health insurance plan?? For me – if I capitulate and join a Part D – I’ll be losing money big time! Question:
    Why can’t the pharmas lower their prices to the public?
    Why do we have to have such an expensive, confusing, inept, program with so many middlemen it makes your head spin??
    I’ve called insurance companies and pharmacies this week for info. and, NONE of them know what’s going on! This – and we’re supposed to join by January, or, is it May, or, or, or

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