Just Get On Board by Pat Conrad MD

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We’ve spilled more than a little ink on this blog describing how Medicare is harmful to physicians, and their relationship with patients. And if Medicare gives fat payoffs to large hospital corporations, it certainly harms a great many individual hospitals and their staffs, particularly their nurses.

We’ve also talked about how Medicare harms patients, from making untenable promises, to stealing from future generations, to the de facto rationing of care through shortages created by declaring seniority a material right. Our deserving seniors, abetted by the medical profession, embraced dependency and allowed us all to be corralled into this cattle chute of institutionalized compassion.

And now I’ve learned of a new (to me) jab from this program, both cruel and incomprehensible.

  •  “Confusion can cause people to sign up late for Medicare Part B, which can lead to a hefty penalty that sticks with you for life … one recent caller to the Medicare Rights Center help line reported enrolling late for Part B and, as a result, paying an additional $52.45 a month, or $629 extra a year.”
  • “There’s a seven-month window to enroll in Medicare that starts three months before your 65th birthday month.”
  • “If you’re collecting Social Security benefits when you turn 65, you are automatically signed up for an insurance package that includes both Medicare Part A (hospital coverage) and Part B.”
  • “Missing the deadline can sometimes result in a lifelong penalty of 10% a year on the Part B premium for each year you fail to enroll.”
  • “If you have retiree health benefits from a former employer, you still must enroll in Medicare during your initial enrollment period to avoid a Part B penalty.

Through this entire article I’m screaming “WHY??” Why should there be a penalty for signing up late, when it could only result in cost savings? Why are Medicare and Social Security linked and activated together? If you are late, why is there a lifelong penalty?

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  2 comments for “Just Get On Board by Pat Conrad MD

  1. Jerry O'Grady
    May 13, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Re: Medicare I turn 65 in August so I’m into the world of Medicare. So far, so good. I liked the linkage to Soc. Sec. (which I began taking in January) because it was hassle free, no forms, etc. to fill out to get the ball rolling. The information that Medicare sends describing your options is also clear and concise. As for late fees, I suppose the reason has to do with keeping people who think “screw it, I’m healthy, I’ll only sign up if/when I get sick” from not paying their share. My friends who are just a few years older than me and have been in Medicare really like it compared to dealing with their commercial insurance company in their pre-Medicare years. They say it’s stress-free to deal with and very efficient. As a former head of the largest free-standing diagnostic imaging center in the Midwest, I dealt with commercial insurance companies through years and years of contract negotiations, so I am very anti-commercial insurance (you would be too, if you saw what I saw—-don’t get me started). Bottom line is that I’d rather pay my money to Medicare than to insurance companies who then bolster their executives’ already excessive compensation plans, stock options, etc.

    • Pat
      May 13, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      I still can’t buy that there is any justification for a life-long premium increase just for signing up late. And I can’t see why anyone would like the idea of linkage to money that you had already earned.

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