The nuts, the bolts, and the screws

social-security-checkNo one ever wants to talk about money, one of those curious taboos in America we tip-toe around. But if you’re following my Adventures in Social Services we need to be clear.

It turns out that the average Boomer’s social security check is around $1200 a month [and I am nothing if not average.] With no other income, 48% of the boomer demographic are 100% reliant on their social security.

So I looked into what the government calls the “Medicare Savings Program.” There are ceilings under which some retirees can have their $104.00 Part B premium, all co-pays, and all prescriptions paid for. At $1,216.90 per month (deduct the $104.00 monthly premium from that), I don’t qualify at the $937.00 per month cut-off for that program. But I do qualify to become what’s called a Ql-1 SM-1 Premium Buy-In Only, which means that as long as the sequester/debt ceiling doesn’t queer the deal, I can have my Part B premium paid for. As far as co-pays and prescriptions, I’m on my own.

Before you become dizzy with joy at the thought of the extra $104.00 a month I’ll have to travel the continents, let’s look at Medigap policies. These are licensed by the state, so every state is different, and there is no guarantee that anyone can buy one, at any price.  [Well, there’s guaranteed issue in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, but all the other states underwrite based on your pre-existing condition(s).]

Why seek a Medigap policy, known widely as Medicare Supplemental Plan F?

Medicare pays 80%. You pay the remaining 20%, a yawning chasm if you're hospitalized, eh?

Medicare pays 80%. You pay the remaining 20%, a yawning chasm if you’re hospitalized, eh?

It’s a no-brainer, but as of today – in Kentucky – you can’t know (a) if you’ll be accepted or (b) what it will cost, because it’s NOT OPEN ENROLLMENT, stupid.

Come October 15 we can begin to shop. I figure I ‘might’ be able to obtain a gap policy at $131.00. Deduct the $104.00 currently paid and I’ll only be an additional $27.00 a month out of pocket.

But no one can escape the do-nut hole.

evil do-nutWell, they can if they draw less than $937 social security a month.  For the rest of us lucky pensioners, even with a Medicare Supplemental Plan F, we’ll need to purchase a Plan D for prescriptions.

Ha, ha, ha!

While the Affordable Care Act has tinkered with the percentage of payments for prescriptions in the do-nut hole, climaxing in a projected year 2020 low, low twenty-five percent (wait, there’s more!), I just saw a hepatologist who recommended a treatment consisting of three drugs over the course of 12 weeks, one of which costs $4,000.00 a pop. I didn’t ask what the other two cost.

But o.k., let’s ration treatment and go for status as a Ql-1 SM-1 Premium Buy-In Only person. For this I have to have a caseworker who must have many documents to prove I am not cheating. Honestly, I have one of the nicest ladies I’ve ever met.

You know the movie.

You know this movie.

O.K., she’s a little scattered, but who wouldn’t be with the mass of poor, disabled, and/or old huddled at her door? If YOU ever have to manuever this system I advise that you do not mail or fax anything. Like me, be prepared to go in person, wait your mandatory 90 minutes or more until she/he is free, and hand-deliver the information. I suggest casual chit-chat until you see the person actually type in the desired data. After that, you’ve done your best.

Now for the bright side! Under my chosen method of Positive Poverty I qualify for $16.00 a month in food stamps! But wait, there’s more. I also qualify for elderly, low-income housing in which one’s rent can be no more than one-third of one’s income.  And for Section 8, though the waiting lists are so long I probably won’t live to see it. AND, much to my surprise, a free, life-line cell phone which a worker signed me up for yesterday.

Applying for housing is a separate process though, so I’m just beginning that. OF COURSE there’s no one-stop integrated social service.

Ya big silly.

Well, I’m off to hand deliver another piece of information to my caseworker.

I leave you with a photo of the August 1971 Womens March on Fifth Avenue for which I was an organizer and, at one point, exhorted the masses from the kick-off stage mic to knock over the wooden barricades halving the street and FILL Fifth Avenue with our demands.

Those demands included universal, single-payer healthcare paid for by taxes exactly as we pay for police, roads, the fire department and other Public Goods. A system in which there would be no Medicare Plans A,B,C,D,E,F, J or Affordable Care Act bronzes, golds, or platinums, or a myriad of Explainers to assist navigation through what is, in my opinion, a deliberately confusing system broken at nearly every level. And that’s if you’re not sick.

My, we were optimistic.

August 1971 march

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in the U.S.S.A.

I know the Beatles did “Back in the USSR” as a nod to Chuck Berry’s “Back in the USA”, but it’s the Beatles’ song that’s playing in my head – with my own rearranged lyrics that repeat “Back in the, back in the, back in the U.S.S.A.” Why, you might ask, am I conflating these tunes? I’d answer that few things make sense, much like my home nation’s current jihad on Syria.

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Last week was Doctor Week!  A new GP and three new Specialists. New Rx. New strategies for chronic conditions. Thus the following phrase is to be sung to the tune of Joe Cocker’s “Many Rivers to Cross” – with new lyrics: “Many co-pays to pay …..”

doctor extracts money

That’s why I’m devoting time this week to finding a Medigap policy.  We’ll just see about that, won’t we?

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I got in touch with an acquaintance here in da Ville who told me he had an old 80s Honda Spree in his shed that he wants to sell.  Synchronicity.

I chose this picture with a person riding to show you how tiny this scoot is.

Honda spreeFrankly, I was shaky when I took it for a test drive. My balance isn’t what it used to be. The fact that it will make up to 30 mph with so little between you and the asphalt is scary. It’s hard to imagine putting this thing into a car lane where most people do NOT drive the speed limit.

street traffic

Eeeeeeeeeek!

Gawd, I’m old.

Well, the scoot’s in the shop for an estimate on making it road worthy (yes, I’d like the back brakes to work and mirrors in the front) and if the numbers play I’ll be buying a helmet, knee pads, cable lock, orange caution flag, and trunk of some sort to store same, ‘cuz there is zero space for anything on this baby.

Yesterday I was in a thrift store and found a pair of kid’s Hot Wheel knee pads for a dollar each.

Hot wheels knee padsThey make dandy elbow pads.

My final scooter related purchase will be a street map of Lou’vulle so I can stay off the main drag.

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Last week, for one miserable day, I was defeated by the heat and the public bus system.

humidity

It was more the bus system because I HAD TO TAKE TWO BUSES. Like any mediocre transit system, transfers aren’t synched. Many bus stops have zero shelter.  As the wait grinds on, one bakes or one freezes. I suppose it’s more or less the same to the intellects who design the schedules.

Surely, if I have to see that specialist again there is a back way upon which I can scoot.

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It looks like Mia may be going to live in Calgary, Canada in November. Her now-foster-mom Mary deserves a double-fudge chocolate sundae with her choice of toppings.  Yeah for Mia!

Mia at Mary's house. Picture by Mary. I miss this goofy girl!

Mia at Mary’s house. Picture by Mary. I miss this goofy girl!

On the other hand, Asher, who is married to Foosie here in Peggy’s house in da Ville, hasn’t left my side much since I returned.

Ascher 004

Did I tell you Asher was a stud-boy for Tree Top Kennels before he retired and came to me? He has ONE HUNDRED SIX children. [That’s in caps because even with thirteen females, that’s a lotta kids.] Yes, he’s marvelous with puppies. In fact, Ash is marvelous with just about anybody he meets. Though he’s older and … ahem … broader than he once was, kind of like a middle-aged guy in Miami with a beer belly – he has the most generous spirit of any schnauzer I’ve met.

When I move I won’t separate him from Foozie or Peggy. But I hope I find a place near by so I can come visit often.

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yada, yada, ya … and the beat goes on.