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.