I don’t know about you; but, if I was worth $18,000,000 I wouldn’t be whoring on national TV selling garbage to the elderly.  Yep, I’m sick of hearing, “Hi, Joe Namath here.”  Joe, yarding on his fame playing football, goes on to tell you that Medicare has authorized new “free” benefits including phone medicine, home meals, hearing aids and a host of other goodies.  

Ever hear someone say, ” It’s too good to be true?”  First of all, Medicare Advantage is not free.  Even if it was free, I would advise you not to switch to an Advantage policy.  A little story should help clarify why. As a physician, I hate this product (and believe that it is a scam).

In my last years as a physician, I worked for a hospital-owned organization.  As a private practitioner, I refused to participate in Medicare Advantage.  As an employed physician, I participated in whichever policy my employer 

contracted with.  

My first patient with a Medicare Advantage policy was a wreck.  Of interest, she worked in the insurance industry for years.  I was shocked that anyone who worked with insurance companies would have an Advantage policy. As it turned out, my patient needed multiple referrals to specialists for multiple serious medical issues.  Since she was told that everything was covered and free on her new policy, she waited until she reached Medicare age to take care of her medical issues.

Her first big shocker came when I explained that I would write the referrals but that each referral had to be approved by her insurance company and getting approvals was by no means a slam dunk.  On her first visit, I wrote six referrals, two of which were urgent as her delaying being seen was taking a toll on her.

Her second shock came three weeks later when I still hadn’t received approval for five of her referrals and a denial on one.  After fighting with her insurer, I finally got approval for the previous denial but the physician she was authorized to see was 25 miles away.  Needless to say, my patient was unhappy.  Unfortunately, she took it out on my staff and I! 

To make a long, complicated story shorter, I’ll cut to the end.  It took 6 months of paperwork, phone calls and being blamed for my patient’s insurer’s rules to get my patient set up to see the specialist she needed to see.  What a pity!  I don’t know how much her Advantage policy cost her but I do know what it would have cost me had I been a private practice physician (a lot of money and frustration).

Let’s assume that everything Joe says is true.  Let’s even assume it’s free.  Is it worth it?  A six-month delay in care can be critical. Seeing a specialist your insurance company sends you to rather than seeing a specialist that your physician refers to may further compromise you.

So, when good old Joe, a retired quarterback, uses his fame to endorse a product that’s “free” or when Tom Selleck ($45,000,000 net worth) sells you on a reverse mortgage, ask, yourself one question; are they being paid to make a pitch?  Then, listen to what they say.  If you listen closely, what they tell you usually doesn’t make sense.

Tom (he’s so warm and caring in the commercial I feel I know him) states, “This isn’t my first rodeo.”  My first question is what the hell does that have to do with a reverse mortgage?   My second question is does Tom have a reverse mortgage?  

When answering those questions, it dawned on me that, since I’ve never been in a rodeo, I must not need or qualify for a reverse mortgage. Backing up my decision not to get a reverse mortgage, is the fact that I’m not worth $85,000,000 so I won’t worry about getting a reverse mortgage until I am a multimillionaire.  Then maybe I’ll understand how a reverse mortgage is a good deal (there are a lot of horror stories on the internet about reverse mortgages).

OK, my rant is over. I feel better. Oh crap, Joe’s on again.  Renee, turn that crap off. Do you want to play rodeo?  I’ll be the cowboy and you’ll be the wild filly.

Here’s your song and joke for the day.

The Jew boasts about his fertility

“I have 4 sons; one more and I’ll have a basketball team!”

“That’s nothing,” says the Catholic, “I have 10 sons! I almost have a football team!”

The Jew and Catholic looked expectantly at the Mormon. “Well?”

“I have 17 wives. I almost have a golf course!”

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