What they never tell you about the “golden years”

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Dear Senior Citizens,

Those of us in the insurance industry, along with the oh-so-helpful people in the federal and state government, would like to welcome you to this exciting time of life. Congratulations on the wisdom you’ve gained through your vast life experiences. You’re going to need every bit of that wisdom as you navigate your golden years, which can often be tarnished by the avalanche of red tape that comes with getting older. Let us explain it to you in the most convoluted way possible.

An aging body sometimes needs medical attention to stay healthy. The good news is that you’re old enough now to receive Medicare benefits. The bad news is that those benefits only cover about 80% of what is owed. You’ll need a supplemental insurance plan and prescription drug plan to help cover the other 20% plus your whopping pharmacy bills. This is where things get interesting.

As you know, medical attention can be costly. Even aspirin and simple Band-Aids have been known to cost hundreds of dollars when they’re handed to you by someone who works at a medical facility. And don’t even get us started on those pricey medical tests. For the cost of one MRI, you could probably buy a small island in the Bahamas.

Some people say supplemental health insurance is also expensive, as are prescription drug plans. While that may be true, you wouldn’t need to buy these expensive policies if you were a robot. We here in the industry robot180prefer robots. We like them so much that we let them answer the phone for us. We even programmed them to tell you that “your call is very important to us.” Don’t they sound sincere?

But let’s get back to business. One of the most important things you’ll do during these golden years is wade through unbelievably complex, confusing health insurance descriptions and then compare and contrast them with other complex, confusing plans in order to decide which one is best for you. You may want to have your adult children accompany you on this journey, and that’s fine. We promise to thoroughly confuse them as well.

During this process you may need a computer, a high-speed Internet connection, a dictionary, a medical background, a legal expert, a mathematician, and approximately 437 hours of free time, which is an estimate of how long it takes to review and sorta-kinda understand the options. (Please note that this is just an estimate and can change at any time without prior notice.)

It’s important to endure this process without losing your mind because insanity will make it impossible for you to qualify for coverage. (Our underwriters want customers with strong bodies and top-notch mental abilities, preferably robots.)

If you don’t qualify for coverage because the mind-numbing complexity of the process has exploded your brain or because of some other deal-breaker diagnosis, you will get whatever bare-bones coverage we deem appropriate. Good luck with that. We hope your savings account is as beefy as the “terms and conditions” section of our policies.

In summary, we want to wish you a happy, relaxing retirement, but we regret to inform you that you’ll need a PhD in red tape management just to age in America. There may be an agent who’s willing to explain all of this to you in a clear, concise manner. Maybe you’ll get lucky enough to talk to one of those people after waiting on hold for an unspecified period of time, so pick up the phone right now.

Our robots are standing by to take your call.

gwen-headshot-2014Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of nwaMotherlode.com. To check out Gwen’s book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

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