Stories & Journeys

Fall has arrived along with Medicare open enrollment

This is a time during fall to make changes in one’s Medicare plan. I am making my way through my seventh year of retirement and enrolled in Medicare. In this column, I am telling my Medicare story and sharing my journey. What I’m thinking, learning, experiencing. I’m inviting you, dear reader, to do the same. Tell yourself, tell others or tell me via
It’s Dec. 26, 2016. My last day as an employee of M Health Fairview University of Minnesota Medical Center after 21 years. My career as a nursing assistant has come to an end. My body has told me I can no longer do the work due to my lumbar spine stenosis. Work that I had discovered to be a calling. The next day I became officially a retiree/senior/elder. I said good bye to my Preferred One health insurance plan. I had about one week to find a Medicare plan that would work for me.
My search for a Medicare plan took me to Epworth United Methodist Church in south Minneapolis where I was an active member at the time. It was suggested to me that I talk to Nan Rice, a retired public school teacher. It was through Nan that I got connected to Leslie Gold, owner of Minnesota Medicare Consultants.  Within a week she got me enrolled in a Blue Cross/Blue Shield hybrid plan which she recommended along with Silver Script for drugs Part D. My Medicare journey  was underway. 
At the time I did not know the difference between a Medicare Advantage Plan and what I now call actual Medicare. For the first year or two that Blue Cross/Blue Shield hybrid plan plus Silver Script met my needs until Blue Cross/Blue Shield dropped it. My most direct path to continue coverage was to enroll in a another Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan which included Part D. I proceeded to enroll. That plan met my needs such as they were for about a year or two. Nonetheless I was becoming increasingly aware of how Medicare Advantage plans are not what I call actual Medicare.
About three years ago I received a letter from Leslie Gold. She suggested that if I was inclined to switch to ‘actual’ Medicare the time to do it would be while I was in relatively good health. Long story short, today I am now enrolled in ’actual’ Medicare with an Aetna supplement and I am back with Silver Script. So far so good. Now I am more focused on the fact that Medicare Advantage is not Medicare. If you have read this far you have taken the plunge into the river (flow) of life experiences that is Stories and Journeys.
While I was with Blue Cross/Blue Shield I was in the Advantage Plan world. So what sets Medicare Advantage Part C apart and more important what makes Advantage Plans a threat to the future of ‘ actual’ Medicare also known as traditional or original Medicare. On Oct. 9, I received one of the regular e-mails I get from Ken McIness, President of Minnesota State Retiree Council, AFL-CIO addressed to retirees. Attached to this email was a Letter-to-the-Editor slated to appear in the Red Wing Republican Eagle, Weekend Edition, on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8, 2023. It was signed by Bruce Yernberg from Red Wing, MN.
In the first part of the letter he writes:
“What seniors need to understand is that Medicare Advantage is not Medicare.”
Here is a salient quote from the letter:
“Remember, traditional Medicare was passed in 1965 because corporate insurance companies didn’t want to cover seniors. They were eager to shift that responsibility to the government. But today, they have found a way to cover seniors and also make huge profits, which is destroying a program that was supposed to be publicly funded and publicly administered health security for seniors.”
More to come next month.
In gratitude always.


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