Sunday, December 17, 2017
Opinion

Ruth: In the September of my years

Those of us of a certain age look into the mirror every morning and delude ourselves into thinking a 25-year-old is staring back at us. It's a guilty pleasure of old fogy denial.

Then the mail arrives to dis abuse us of our vanities with constant reminders we are indeed officially designated geezers.

In September, I will turn 65. Sixty-five? How did that happen?

It seems as if it was only yesterday I was 16 and eager to get a driver's license, or 21 and about to have my first legal drink, or … so many birthday benchmarks. But those were many yesterdays ago. Many.

Now I watch the nightly news and am inundated with commercials for drugs relating to all manner of aging infirmities. If the ailment won't kill me or turn me into a newt, the pill's many side effects most certainly will. Are they talking to me? It's enough to give up any interest in current events.

In recent weeks, it seems my name has been included in some vast database of fellow mossbacks who are about to become Medicare eligible. It's as if I and my fellow 1949 baby boomers have been swept up in a National Security Agency geriatric pool of enlarged prostates.

If there is an upside to discovering one is finally old enough to qualify for Medicare, it might be older Americans get to experience what it must be like to be Canadian, eh?

Many of the come-ons tout all the excitement that by turning 65, although I may not realize it, I am in a "unique position." Who knew that simply by managing to breathe this long, entirely new vistas of paperwork would be laid before me? As for "unique positions," by this age I'm grateful to be relatively upright.

So far, I've been invited to free luncheons — tapioca optional? — to learn more about my benefits. I've been invited to free seminars. I've been offered free books, free "information." I must admit for someone who is practically a semi-recluse, I've never felt more popular.

As September looms like the Angel of Geritol, I am reliably informed, thanks to the U.S. Postal Service, that I need to make a bunch of decisions concerning Medicare and various associated benefits.

I have to deal with Medicare Part A, and of course Part B.

And as one flier noted, the fun is only just beginning since after wrapping up Parts A and B, there is the issue of Medicare Advantage Part C, which as it was explained to me also includes Parts A and B, HMO's, PPO's and/or PFFS.

And let us not forget Part D, the individual prescription drug plan. Let the glazing of the eyes begin.

Wait! There's more! One mailer explained I must also consider Medigap insurance, which is supposed to cover what A-through-D does not. In fact, apparently there are Medicare plans all the way to N, which must make O through Z feel like alphabetical failures.

Obviously, this is President Barack Obama's fault for not inflating the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid with enough bureaucratic mazes, doughnut holes and forms to make every letter from A-to-Z proud of their contributions to the American health system.

Some companies such as Florida Blue have been especially aggressive in constantly reminding me I am soon to enter official fossildom. Blue wants to send me a (FREE) Medicare guide featuring a happily graying couple on the cover who couldn't seem to be more joyous over the prospect of advanced onset dementia.

Then there are other companies who apparently want to keep their names secret, identifying themselves only as the Reply Processing Center, or the National Reply Center. Here's my reply: If you're not going to tell me who you are, how do I know I'm not doing business with the Sinaloa Cartel of Depends?

I dread dealing with all of this. The looming Medicare enrollment period is yet another reminder that I have to stop thinking about sex and start worrying about cataracts. Decisions, decisions.

Oh, and then there is the missive that showed up in the mailbox the other day telling me that not only did I already have one foot in the grave, but the other one was soon to follow.

This was the kind offer to give me yet another FREE planning guide to cover my Senior Final Expense Program. The brochure invited me to see if I qualify for the benefit, which I suspect merely requires having a pulse — at least for the moment.

These folks think of everything.

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