Medicare sows confusion | Dec. 2
Confusion comes from insurers
The headline "Medicare sows confusion" is a bit unfair to Medicare. A more accurate statement would be, "Insurers confuse Medicare."
Medicare in itself — Part A for hospitalization and Part B for routine health care — is quite straightforward and easy to understand. Part C introduces insurance companies into the Medicare arena, providing managed care alternatives in Medicare Advantage and cost reimbursement support in Medigap/Medicare supplement policies. Part D extends prescription drug benefits administered by insurance companies.
As a participant in Medicare Advantage because of the opportunities to reduce my health care costs, I have 34 plans from which to select, with staggering permutations in benefits, provider networks and ancillary features. Medicare supplement plans have 10 different benefit frameworks and a host of providers, each with their own twists. The more one understands, the more labyrinthine it appears.
To summarize: Medicare is simple and not confusing, but one can save money by slogging through managed care offerings. Lastly, and ironically in the face of difficulties experienced by the ACA rollout, the Medicare website — www.medicare.gov — is tremendous: a comprehensive and easily navigated source of information. It is invaluable in understanding the full range of Medicare and for shopping for a managed care plan.
G.T. Kaszer, St. Petersburg
Animal shelter director ousted Dec. 3
Experienced leader needed
I question the wisdom of appointing Dexter Barge, director of code enforcement, as interim head of animal services.
What specific experience does he have in this area? Perhaps he owns a pet? That would seem to go along with the rationale of County Administrator Mike Merrill in saying one of the reasons Ian Hallett is qualified to run the parks department is because he's a cyclist.
If the issues facing animal services are as complicated as claimed, then it seems to me that Barge, who also remains in his code enforcement job, is not the best choice. Let's give animal services a chance to succeed with a full-time, experienced leader.
Deborah Green, Sun City Center
As a retired federal bureaucrat, I can speak from personal experience about something that most people know intuitively: Bureaucracies will always cost more, do less, and delay the service delivered. That is simply reality.
Given that, we should certainly not be surprised at the fiasco that the rollout of Obamacare has been. What I do find amazing, however, is that we would even consider turning over one-sixth of our economy to a bureaucracy — particularly in such an important area as health care.
Ray Kelly, Spring Hill
CEO plugs in to what matters | Dec. 1
How to repair public image
It was nice to read something positive about Duke Energy after all the adverse media coverage lately. CEO Lynn J. Good sounds like the right person for a very tough job.
As one of the 1.7 million Florida Duke customers, I have no input on corporate decisions, rate structure, etc. I must take what they give. However, I believe Duke could repair and enhance their corporate image at very small cost. Buying acreage and developing the land into an eco-friendly park (or parks), stressing natural habitat for the public's education and enjoyment, would be a well-received, welcome gesture.
By giving something back to their clientele, the "payback" in restoring Duke's public image would be significant.
L.J. "Jim" Pochurek, Palm Harbor
Pavement and politics
As long as I have lived in the bay area, U.S. 19 has been a mess. In 1980 it was bumper-to-bumper, stoplight to stoplight. Then came improvements: more lanes, overpasses and frontage roads. Eliminating stoplights dead-ended streets, walled off neighborhoods, split communities and closed businesses.
Pavement and politics have combined to diminish local autonomy. No more "welcome to" signs; just eight lanes of asphalt going nowhere. Ah, progress.
Dennis Roper, Clearwater
Sales tax fairness for Florida Dec. 4, editorial
Willing to pay the tax
I knew that sooner or later a good thing would come to an end. I'm talking about not having to pay tax on purchases made over the Internet. I have dealt with a lot of companies that do collect tax, and I continue doing business with them.
For me, the issue isn't paying tax. The selection on the big sites such as Amazon is tremendous. Why should I waste my time going from store to store looking for what I want when I can have everything available in front of me, the next day, and don't have to fight traffic and wait in line?
Stores just don't carry much anymore. I'm content paying tax for Internet sales as I have paid taxes all my life for in-store purchases. This is the way of the future.
Steve Oromaner, St. Petersburg