Medicare Law a Disservice to Seniors

The Medicare problem is one of the three most important things to resolve in 2006, though it should have been done years ago for the health and lives of Social Security (SS) members.

Here’s a vivid story of a 65-year-old lady whose husband died last year. She’s an SS retiree and is now living alone.

Her plight is of great human interest because she could be anyone. She’s my good friend, Rose. Last week, she called from Manila where she is vacationing.

“Pat, I read through the PDN Web site that Medicare will reduce next year its support for Guam and 38% of doctors there may refuse to see us while others will do it as an act of charity.”

“This will adversely affect 10,560 members and increasing on Guam,” I replied.

“It pains me, Pat, because when they introduced Medicare in the 1960’s, I was only 25 then and for 40 years I contributed 3% of my lifetime income. Now, I’m sickly and alone in life. Where’s justice in America?”

“I’m so sorry, Rose. I wrote an article in the PDN seven months ago and followed up with series of articles in Mabuhay News calling for the amendment of the obsolete 40-year-old Medicare Law, but up to now all our politicians are silent on this.”

“You know except for one or two, all politicians are created equal. They’re known for their varied interest – people’s interest, self-interest or supporters’ business interest,” Rose said.

“You’re right.”

“How I wish I got other private health insurance then because Medicare covers emergencies arising in Guam only. It’s unfair; this should be changed.”

“Yes. Besides, medical and dental costs in Manila are five and eight times cheaper respectively than in Guam and the mainland. Medicare and patients could save millions of dollars there. It’s now globalized pricing for goods and services. Why are medical/dental services excluded?”, I added.

“Got to hang up now, Pat, I have chest pains and must rest. I’ll return to Guam in two days to get a doctor’s referral there, then fly back to Manila again for my hospitalization.”

She started to sob.

“Go now to Makati Medical Center. You’re sick, Rose.”

“I can’t because I don’t have enough money. Medicare won’t pay for it because it requires that I be in Guam. Please continue working for the revision of Medicare’s impractical provisions on emergency cases. That’s one of our leader’s promises, isn’t it?”

“Yes, take good care of yourself. I pray that nothing wrong happens in your travel. I’ll continue pursuing justice for SS members.”

A week had already passed by.

No call or news from Rose yet. May God protect and bless my friend.

(First printed in 2006 [Pat in the Back]. Where are we now in this plight? We haven’t moved a bit. – Ed.)