Medicare’s Munchkin Mess
The â€œdonut holeâ€ is here. When the Medicare drug benefit was working its way through Congress, it was such a budget buster that legislators inserted a provision that leaves a gap in coverage: beneficiaries receive benefits until spending reaches $2250, then pay everything themselves until they’ve spent $3600, then receive generous benefits again above that point.
As yesterday’s New York Times points out, beneficiaries are now hitting the donut hole for the first time. Many are surprised. They either didn’t know about the donut hole, thought it started after out-of-pocket (as opposed to total) spending hit $2250, or thought it ended after total (as opposed to out-of-pocket) spending hit $3600. Others thought it was something from Dunkin Donuts.
Seniors are angry and confused. The issue may hurt Republicans, it is said. But let’s keep things in perspective. This non-means tested program for seniors is being subsidized by working people. Plenty of well-off oldsters are getting coverage while there is no equivalent subsidy for those below Medicare age.
Overall, I’m not sympathetic.July 31, 2006