Thursday, December 4, 2008

AARP Has Sold Their Soul to the Devil

One of my new-found perks of being a hospitalist is being able to enjoy daytime television not related to contracting influenza or wasting an otherwise-perfect day off.  In nearly every way, I am the antithesis of the target demographic for the commercials -- particularly the AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance ad.

Normally I zone out during healthcare-related advertisements, but the commerical was on literally every 15 minutes.  Then I noticed the fine print at the bottom.  Then I became quite irritated.

The AARP Medicare Supplement Plan is  United HealthCare in disguise.  Yes.  The insurance company which scored the lowest in a comprehensive survey of physicians.

This is the same insurance company which, after a long bloody exchange, is being dropped next year by one of the largest health centers in my area.  Why?  Because their reimbursement is laughable.  And they refuse to pony up.

Fortunately, as a hospitalist, I now get to ignore most insurance company hassles.  I don't have the energy, and am not willing to waste the time, to figure out exactly how much of a screw-job the AARP Medicare Supplement Plan is.  But I have to wonder what lurks behind their banter:

1. "I get to choose my own doctor!"

Really?  Can you find a primary care doctor?  If so, do they accept the AARP Plan?  If so, do they
give your doctor additional reimbursement to supplement Medicare's insulting breadcrumb?

2. "I don't need a referral to see a specialist."

My concerns about finding a primary doctor notwithstanding, what if your specialist wants to
order $5,000 of diagnostic evaluation? How much of that will you cover? Do you require
doctors to fill out mountains of pre-authorization paperwork? What if Medicare refuses to pay,
will you pick that up for these people?

3. "It's been endorsed by the AARP!"

Because we've never witnessed otherwise-respectable institutions sell off their souls one piece
at a time for a lil extra dough? Particularly in this economy? How do you know that someone
at the top-rung of the AARP doesn't play golf with the marketing director of UHC?

Regardless of these dubious claims, what about prescription drug coverage? I agree that physicians need 
to be more vigilant about using generics, but what about the usual suspects? Is Plavix still going to cost
these people $100 a month?

What does it say about our entitlement programs when an entire business can survive on covering
healthcare costs that Medicare refuses to?

Finally... I wonder how close a year's worth of premiums to UHC would come to a concierge medicine
retainer fee? And which one would improve the quality of our elderly's care more.

1 comment:

Craig said...

Multiple Medicare Supplement Quotes are available online at