Navigating Medicare or Performing Brain Surgery: Which One’s More Complicated?

Steve McDonald By Steve McDonald, Bond Strategist, The Oxford Club

Slap In The Face Award


The slap this week goes out to Medicare and the insurance companies hell-bent on making it impossible to figure out which plan to choose and what coverage I need.

I have spent most of my civilian life trying to stay as far from the government and its complexities as possible. But now I’m forced to be a part of the inefficiencies and craziness from inside the Beltway!

And I really hate it. Here’s why…

I’m 18 months from being eligible to sign up for Medicare coverage. So I’ve been trying to understand what Medicare pays for, what it doesn’t pay for and what other coverages I need.

I have to be honest… I’m stumped.

The ads you see on TV now, during open enrollment for Medicare, make it seem so easy. But if that’s the case, then why don’t I trust any of them?

I’m not a dumb person. I’ve navigated some pretty tricky and complex systems and bureaucracies… the Navy for one. But this may have me licked!

I know that basic Medicare covers 20% of my hospital and doctors’ costs, but what is all this Medigap and Medicare Advantage?

Do they or don’t they cover drugs? Which one covers them, and how much should they cost?

I’ve seen plans that say they cover everything, but they cost more than private insurance!

Vision? Dental? Nothing is explained in terms we – the uninitiated to government systems – or the insurance industry can understand.

I even fell back on my 37-year relationship with USAA and got nowhere. Just the same old “if you want this…” or “if you choose this…” confusion.

When I need car insurance, an agent tells me what reasonable liability coverage is. With life insurance, I know what I need to cover my outstanding costs if I check out unexpectedly.

But this Medicare thing is out of control.

I feel like I am being pushed into a corner where I have to trust an insurance salesman. Sorry, been there, done that.

And most maddening, I know 50% is smoke and mirrors. Nothing is this complex.

My gut tells me this is all intentionally misleading to get us to the point where we say, “Oh, I’ll just take the big plan and cover everything.”

So if you feel you’ve successfully navigated this maze, found a reasonable approach, and you speak English (not insurance industry gibberish), I’d love to hear from you.

I want to share the more understandable ideas with our readers. I’d really appreciate your help on this one, so be sure to leave a comment.

Good investing,