---- — It is with sadness that we note the passing of Wanda Richards. We have known Wanda, as well as her late husband Bill, since we moved to Cooperstown some thirty years ago. And we always enjoyed our many conversations with them.
However, the one story we always liked the best was the one that Bill told about how he and Wanda met in kindergarten. And he knew on the spot that she was the girl for him, deciding then and there that they would one day be married. We admit that we know a number of high school sweethearts who eventually married. But we think Wanda and Bill Richards were the only couple we have known who started out as kindergarten sweethearts. To Wanda’s family and friends, we extend our sympathy.
Not long ago we received a newsletter from our Medicare supplemental insurance company that, to put it mildly, struck us the wrong way. We did not mind reading about high blood pressure, the ways to prevent and signs of a stroke or even the recipe for healthier pumpkin pie. However, we were truly annoyed by the fact that the newsletter stated quite clearly that the newsletter was for insurance members with hypertension.
Now we realize that in order to process claims, health insurance companies have to be given a patient’s diagnosis. However, we do not think that means said insurance company should in any way contact its members based on that information. After all, we did not hire the insurance company to play doctor. We hired them to provide insurance coverage. Thus we called to complain.
When we explained our concerns about the newsletter we were told that it was just a generic newsletter that was sent to all of its members. This response prompted us to than ask why the newsletter said it was specifically for members with hypertension. The response to our question was a very long pause, followed by an offer to remove us from the mailing list of all such newsletters. We thanked the person who handled our call and trust we never receive another such newsletter. Of course, little did we know at the time that this particular health related mailing was just the beginning of problematic health insurance mailings.
A few days later we received our annual copy of Medicare and You for 2014. In it we read a letter from Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Marilyn B. Tavenner, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Included in the letter was the following piece of information:
“Starting Jan. 1, 2014, millions of people without Medicare will have access to quality health insurance through the new Health Insurance Marketplace. This means that your family, friends, and neighbors who don’t have health insurance now will have what you love about Medicare, the piece of mind that comes from being covered.”
And while we think efforts to make health insurance both available and affordable to all is a good idea, we can but hope that navigating the Health Insurance Marketplace proves to be less stressful than trying to navigate Medicare. Granted, we had no problems with our reading of Medicare and You. It was in the information from our supplemental insurance company and our Part D insurer that gave us pause.
In the letter from our supplemental insurance company we read that they had, “...filed a request for approval to adjust 2014 community-rated premiums with the New York State Department of Financial Services,” adding that, “if our filing is approved by NYSDFS, the change in premium rates for your plan as of March 1, 2014 will be 58.73%.”
Ouch! Such an increase in one year seems somewhat over the top although we must admit that when we signed up for the insurance we thought the premium was on the ridiculously low side. However, we think to ask for an almost 60% increase in one year is on the ridiculously high side.
On the other hand, the premium increase for our Part D prescription plan insurance was only $1.60 per month. But co-pays, which in some cases in 2013 were nothing, will increase rather dramatically in 2014. Added to these increases are the fact that co-pays will be less if one uses either a mail-order pharmacy or a preferred network pharmacy, of which, as far as we can tell, there are none in Cooperstown. It seems all preferred network pharmacies are large chains, such as Walmart and Walgreens, which might well result in a major hit for local pharmacies if people find they need the savings afforded when using a preferred pharmacy. And this would seem to be a possibility that would not in any way be good for our local economy.
Of course, the local economy would not seem to be the only thing under attack. If the etiquette we have encountered of late is any indication, our very sensibilities are under attack.
While lunching recently with friends, a complaint was made by one of our dining companions about a gentleman in the restaurant who was wearing a cap while dining. We replied that we had long ago given up on worrying about the relative rudeness of cap wearing diners. And it turns out we were right to think that the wearing of a cap in a restaurant was the least of our problems.
After lunch, while we were sitting on the bench inside the entrance waiting for our friend to return from the ladies’ room, we looked out the window at the exact time a gentleman, and we use the term very loosely, standing on the sidewalk outside evidently decided he had to tuck in his shirt. Thus he undid his belt, unzipped his pants and dropped his trousers exposing his lily white boxer shorts. He then tucked in his shirt, pulled his pants up, buckled his belt and zipped up his fly. Even we, who has seen a lot in our lifetime, were stunned.
Of course, the gentleman may have thought he was alone on the sidewalk and did not realize his exposure through the window. But thank goodness he was at least wearing boxers, although we think briefs would have also worked for us too.
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