Health & Medical Readers Comments

Medicare Part B Comment

“Why can’t my Medicare Part B $78 go to the VA where it’ll do some good?”

I did not work under SS for most of my life, so even after 16 years of cost of living increases, I received only $351 a month in 2004. In 2005 I will receive only $351 [no error: same amount is last year] because the increase in the Medicare premium wipes out my COL increase. Isn’t that a kick in the pants!

Another ripoff is that what one will receive in 2005 is based on the COL for 2004. The other item is that, although when you turn 65 and are eligible for Medicare you get (and keep on getting) a barrage of info saying “choose your plan (HMO), choose this, choose that.

OK, but as a veteran of W.W.II I would like to chose the VA healthcare system and assign my Medicare premium of $78.20 a month starting in January to the VAH system.

I am fortunate to live only 15 minutes away from the San Diego VA hospital. It is one of the best, if not THE BEST in the system and is adjacent to the University of California at San Diego medical school.

Fortunately, I am currently able to access the VAH system and would like to be able to assign my SS medicare premium to it.

It can’t be done!

And it might never happen because the HMOs don’t want to lose customers to the VA. Not only do the HMOs get our monthly premium of $78, but they also get a “capitation” payment of around $500 a month from the government for every Medicare recipient they sign up.

On top of that, of course, you must pay a copay amount of $10 to $20 each time you see a doctor and for each prescription you get. This is the case with all the HMOs I’ve heard of.

Now you know why they advertise so much! The VAH here does a wonderful job of caring for thousands of veterans, but it is easy to see that it is in dire need of more funds and personnel, partly because of the flood of injured and disabled military coming out of Afghanistan and Iraq and also because the remaining old vets from W.W.II and Korea need more and more health care.

Regards, Walt Hans

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