UPDATE: 12/8/2008 -- Before I left, I got my grandmother straightened out. She will stay with her current Rx provider and will pay $8.40 a year in premiums. But, this way, all her drug brands will be covered and she won't need new prescriptions.
I love my grandmother.
She is 93 years old and suffers from all the maladies that generally afflict older people (hypertension, diabetes, glaucoma, arthritis, digestive problems, kidney trouble, shortness of breath...). But she is sharp as a tack and still takes care of herself. My mother does the heavy lifting like grocery shopping, but my grandmother holds it down just like she did my entire life.
But things just don't get any easier with age. I am home this week on vacation and when I am home, I don't do much. I spend time with my grandmother, running errands when she needs it since I have a car. I hang out a lot with my best friend since we were kids. I see my brother. And, of course, I shop (which I will get to the damage in another post)!
This week I have spent a considerable amount of time on the phone with Medicare Prescription Drug Plans. My grandmother got a letter saying she would be automatically enrolled in another plan because her current plan's monthly premium would increase from nothing to 70 cents a month. The plan they were going to roll her into was free, but it didn't cover ANY of the drugs she was taking! To be fair, it covered other brands of the same drugs she is taking, not the specific brands she currently gets. And, of course, it covered most of the generics she currently takes.
But she would not have known that if I hadn't called to ask specifically about each and every prescription. It kills me how they talk to older folks. You know they don't know what your complicated gub'ment speak means. One guy told her she wouldn't have to pay anything for anything. I called the same company and found that she might not have a premium to pay, but her drug brands weren't covered and the co-pay was higher. She was aghast, "Why didn't he tell me that?"
Because you didn't ask grandma. They only tell you what you ask about. Now, some customer reps are better than that and will ask more questions to get you a clearer picture, but those phone lines are jammed all day every day. Most of them are not going to take the time unless you make them take it. One lady hung up on me!
So, she is going to stick with her current plan. It will now cost $8.40 a year. That's nothing for my grandmother, thankfully, and if it was my mom would pay or I certainly would. It was not the cost, it was the convenience and the routine. She needed to stick with her current prescriptions and pharmacy. You can't just switch old people up, no matter how much "sense" it makes.
I do not look forward to old age. I assume it's better than the alternative, but it's going to be a hard row to hoe.