Medicare is confusing. Medicare Part D is the most confusing part of Medicare. So it is important for seniors to ignore news columns such as this recent PolitiFact article analyzing the truth or fallacy of a recent Obama re-election ad.
The Obama claim is probably true. (I didn’t see the whole ad and I base my opinion on the fact that most seniors understand that ads are self serving and slanted.) But the long PolitiFact article analyzing the short Obama ad introduces a dozen errors and could be misleading to senior citizens reading it.
Here are just a few examples. PolitiFact says the ad says:
"As president (Obama) signed the Affordable Care Act ... and reduced the cost of prescription drugs for nearly 3.6 million Americans (by $2.1 billion) in 2011."
It’s true but at least a little misleading not to point out that this 3.6 million number is only about 8% of all the people on Medicare. Looked at another way, only about 8% fall into “the hole” in the first place so more than nine out of 10 seniors don't have to think twice about the donut hole.
It is also misleading not to mention that while the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) “gave” us seniors this couple of billion a year in savings (actually the drug manufacturers give it to us, not PPACA) via Part D, PPACA takes $150 billion away from about 12,000,000 of us seniors on Medicare Part C over the next 10 years. (Many of the 3,600,000 and 12,000,000 are the same people of course.) That’s not such a good deal: get $2 billion but lose $150 billion.
PolitiFact also says the ad says:
- "Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs for beneficiaries, has always contained a coverage gap.”
It’s at least a little misleading not to mention that Medicare Part D hasn’t "always contained" anything. It’s only six years old and before that there was no Medicare drug coverage at all. The donut hole is dumb but before it existed, 100% of seniors on Medicare (unless they had private prescription insurance) paid dollar-one and 100% of all subsequent dollars for drugs. When Part D was passed, President Obama’s party opposed it (although they might argue that they opposed it because it had this stupid deductible in the middle? I dunno. I wasn’t a senior then so didn’t pay attention.)
There are also errors about deductibles, the size of the initial phase, the size of the donut hole, the process of reaching catastrophic coverage (only affects 3% of seniors), the ultimate status of the donut hole after 2020, what the drug companies are doing and why and will be doing as well as other errors and omissions. The point is, don't depend on political writings for something as important as your Medicare. Go to your local senior center and ask.