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New Senior Health Care Benefit?

Senior Health > New Senior Health Care Benefit?

In May of 2004, President George W. Bush implemented as part of his general health care plan a Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (as per a White House press release). To augment senior health care, a Medicare Drug Discount Card is now offered to seniors to help them with prescription drug costs. But the question whether the most needful seniors will benefit from this part of their senior health care repertoire.

The White House press release of November, 2004 reports that more than 4 million seniors are already using and saving on costs with their Medicare drug discount cards. But then, another report by Scout News (as re-released in Health Day News) discloses that most seniors are confused…and not yet taking advantage of the plan. Those who speculate on why this senior health care law is not yet well used consider two general reasons: 1) that “many Medicare enrollees aren’t computer savvy” and 2) that they mistrust the Internet, where they would have to enroll.

But the reports in themselves are contradictory enough that they are confusing. In other words, we might look at the numbers for a minute, to decipher exactly what percentage of needful seniors are benefiting from the new senior health care benefit that has been in existence for over a half a year now.

According to Barbara Lyons, Ph.D., in a statement to the senate, titled, “Medicaid’s Role for Seniors” (a pre-senior health care reform of 2004 statement), of 44% of all seniors in the U.S. are 200% below the federal poverty level. This suggests that this few years later, 33 million seniors are twice below the poverty level. So approximately only 5.3% are “already taking advantage” of the Medicare Drug Discount Card.

Given the more vital statistics, then, we can see that this particular senior health care benefit is not yet catching on. Based on these (roughly calculated) numbers and based on the comment made that many are not computer savvy enough to benefit from the program, we might question a few more deductions, asking 1) How many of the 33 million senior citizens of the U.S. who are 200% below poverty line can afford computers? 2) What impression do the 4 million have who are using the Medicare Drug Discount Card? 3) How many of the 29 million seniors who are not using it are quite capable of navigating and negotiating their way on the Internet—and are therefore not eligible for the category of technophobes and feeble minded that the speculators have put them in?

Senior Health > New Senior Health Care Benefit?