STAT - Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine

STAT - Reporting from the frontiers of health and medicine

Yes! I’ve got a PhD and my wife has a PhD in economics. I’m professor of medical informatics and I’ve written a lot about healthcare policy. I’m also a senior fellow at one of the nation’s leading healthcare economics institutes. Nevertheless, I found spelunking through the medicare options absurdly complex. The CMS book for my state displays: 1. the many companies; 2. the plan levels for each company (e.g., a, b, c, etc); 3. but also has the counties covered by those companies in often odd patterns (e.g., counties 3, 7, 5 vs counties 1, 2, 4, 7). The latter element makes it even more of a labyrinth. Of course one can create a spread sheet to help organize the options, including the needed medications. But the status of these medications (generic vs. brand name vs. replacement products) are unknown and usually unknowable. We do know from thousands of reports that the supplemental plans exist to give US tax funds to the insurance industry, which can lower costs to consumers. But consumers are forced to negotiate this labyrinth with limited understanding of their options and of forthcoming price changes.



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