George Graham

Trying to Manage my Health Care

As Grace’s comment on yesterday’s blog pointed out, with Obamacare, we old timers “get more preventive services for less.” She writes:

Medicare now covers certain preventive services, like mammograms or colonoscopies, without charging you for the Part B coinsurance or deductible. You also can get a free yearly “Wellness” visit. You can save money on brand-name drugs. If you’re in the donut hole, you’ll also get a 50% discount when buying Part D-covered brand-name prescription drugs. The discount is applied automatically at the counter of your pharmacy—you don’t have to do anything to get it. The donut hole will be closed completely by 2020. 

Thanks Grace.It sounds pretty good but it’s a long way from the kind of health care they get in countries like Canada.

I’m in the doughnut hole and my Travatan eye drops cost me $50 (instead of $15) last night.  For the rest of the year, I will pay 80 percent of the cost of generics and (as you said) 50 percent of the cost of brand name drugs. I understand my share will get smaller as time wears on. If I live to 2020, I will – finally – be completely out of the doughnut hole.

Meanwhile, I’m left wrestling with other confusing changes. My primary care doctor quit PUP and I had a lot of trouble finding a doctor in the insurance provider’s network that wasn’t miles and miles away from my home. The choices are getting slimmer as Medicare cuts back on its payments to health care providers and the Medicare Advantage insurers follow suit.

I spent most of this morning on the phone trying to locate an eligible primary care physician. I only hope the one I finally found isn’t a quack.

I cannot understand why Americans wouldn’t accept a simple government-run health insurance program. The government wouldn’t need to “take over” health care. All the feds would need to do is offer Medicare to anyone who wants it, leaving the private insurers to compete with them for customers.

Instead, we have a convoluted system modeled after a Republican plan that came out of the Heritage Foundation and got adopted in Massachusetts by Mitt Romney. And because of pressure from misguided budget hawks, President Obama had to scrounge around to find ways of paying for the program.

The Republicans (and Blue Dog Democrats) wouldn’t let him touch sacred cows like the defense budget so that left us vulnerable old folks as the easiest target.

It amazes me that America can find billions to protect drug runners in Afghanistan but can’t afford to provide health care for its citizens without putting us old folks through this kind of aggravation.

It’s odd that the Republicans are doing everything they can to sabotage the system they originated. But they should be careful what they wish for; by torpedoing Obamacare, they could leave voters so outraged that the public option gets accepted after all.

Click to read about resurgence of the public option idea.


About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for