Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Retirement Healthcare et al—The Complexities of Simplification

One of the most common goals of retirement is to simplify life. The day that my Medicare began, I went from one health insurance card to three—basic Medicare, supplemental coverage and prescription coverage. I wasn’t on it for even a week when a fourth card arrived in the mail. What part of “simplify” does the government not understand?

The fourth card is for prescriptions that aren’t covered by the third card, but it costs nothing. The papers that came with it say I should be sure to use the third card before using the fourth one. Of course, they don’t refer to them as cards three and four. They are the card for Part D and the card for “the AARP Prescription Discount Program.” If the discount program card costs nothing and I received it without even asking, why isn’t it just folded into Part D, the third card (which I also have through AARP)? That would be too simple.

So let’s get back to counting retirement cards. Four for my healthcare coverage, plus my AARP card, and I’m sure I’ll get some type of card when I start collecting Social Security. That makes six and leaves me just one short of having a card for every day of the week. Which brings back fond memories of that set of embroidered panties I had in the sixth grade. The Saturday ones were my favorites. Sigh.

That in turn reminds me how my mother always told us to be sure to wear clean underpants each day. “You never know when you might get hit by a truck and be rushed to the hospital. Think how embarrassing it would be if you arrived there with dirty undies, or worse yet (gasp!) ones with holes in them.” (I can see a lot of you out there smiling, because your mothers said the same thing to you.)

But I bet when you were in kindergarten (and took the second bus,) she didn’t make you bring a brown paper bag with clean underpants for your brother in first grade (first bus.) This because she couldn’t find yesterday’s pair, and it never occurred to her that he might have put them into the hamper. Talk about embarrassing. I’m not sure he’s forgiven me to this day. I actually made him put them on, even when he insisted his were clean. My mother had made me promise to.

Since I seem to have your attention on this tangent, please raise your hands. How many of you turned this around on your mother your freshman year in college? When I came home with leopard print bikinis in my laundry, my mother was horrified. “What if someone saw these?” she wailed. (Duh. Yes indeed, what if. One could always hope…) To which I replied in my most innocent voice, “Yes, but mother, if I got hit by a truck, at least I’d have on clean ones with no holes.” She was not amused.

And to think this all started with me counting healthcare cards. Mom always had a knack for making everyone smile. I guess she still does. Double sigh.

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