Medicare Madness

I’ve always prided myself on being able to figure things out. I believe there is a solution to every problem. If I keep my mind focused on finding the solution rather than focused on the problem, the solution always appears. This belief system or mindset has kept me from despair in the past two weeks.

My life plan took a big left turn recently. My 94-year-old-step-mother passed away in May and my 93-year-old father came to live with my husband and me. Dad had been living in a very nice graduated care facility in central Illinois. Now he needed to come to live with us temporarily in Maine as we prepared our rental home for vacation season and then in our Colorado home during the time as our Maine home is rented this summer

We considered staying in Maine for the summer. But during his brief stay with us, two trips to the ER followed by admission to a hospital more than an hour’s drive from our home made staying in Maine impractical. Or so we thought.

Our home just outside of Denver is minutes away from five major hospitals. Surely having access to more hospitals would improve Dad’s health care options. In terms of hospital choices it did. But I learned something important, not only with respect to my father’s situation, but important to all baby boomers who will go on Medicare. Just because you have Medicare, doesn’t necessarily mean your doctor will accept it.

In Denver, Dad had another trip to the ER. I was stunned to discover the number of doctors here that do not accept Medicare. An April 1, 2009 article by Julie Connelly in The New York Times explains why.

“Many people, just as they become eligible for Medicare, discover that the insurance rug has been pulled out from under them. Some doctors – often internists, but also gastroenterologists, gynecologists, psychiatrists and other specialists – are no longer accepting Medicare, either because they have opted out of the insurance system or they are not accepting new patients with Medicare coverage. The doctors’ reasons: reimbursement rates are too low and paperwork is too much of a hassle.”

This does not bode well for baby boomers or for healthcare providers. If you can’t see a doctor, will you end up going to the emergency room – the highest priced health care option? What other solutions are there for this problem? This Medicare madness is something that I and other baby boomers will definitely have to figure out before we lose both our money and our health.

Kathryn Avery

About Kathryn Avery

When Kathryn Severns Avery’s husband, Chris, began contemplating retirement in 2014, she knew they had to quickly come up with a multi-faceted plan. They spent the next year discussing, sometimes heatedly, what they would do once he stopped working. On paper their plan looked exciting. They would head from Colorado to the 1891 sea captain’s house they bought and renovated in Rockland on Maine’s midcoast. But the reality of planning and implementing retirement was much different than expected. Kathryn has worked in radio, television, marketing, and public relations. She is the author of five books and has written articles on interior design and crafts for national and regional publications including Romantic Homes, Log Homes Illustrated, The Rocky Mountain News and Colorado Homes and Lifestyles.