Sunday, April 25, 2021

Joe Namath and NYC Retirees

There is a really disturbing report suggesting that all city retirees could be relegated to Medicare Part C, which is essentially privatized medicine. I know this well, because whenever I wake up in the middle of the night and turn on the TV, there is Joe Namath, telling me I need to sign up for his super-duper medical plan.

You can get all these things, if you listen to Joe. He'll bring meals to your house. He'll drive you to the doctor. He'll come over and bake a cake for your birthday. How could anyone possibly resist such a great offer? Maybe Joe will come over and let you wear his Super Bowl ring. 

For weeks last year, Joe said I needed to sign up before the deadline in December. Otherwise I would lose out on all these fabulous benefits. Then the deadline came and went, and Joe was still on TV telling me I needed to sign up. 

Times must be tough if retired sports stars need to get on TV 200 times a day to sell me stuff. Worse, I don't much expect to score a gig like that when I'm Joe's age. Joe says I should go with his company rather than the government. America is a great country. We have privatized schools, privatized prisons, and even privatized medicine. Someone is getting way rich off of us, whatever we do. But despite Joe's assurances, not everyone is jumping up and down over this prospect:

“The city is going to save money by making seniors pay more for their health care,” Zewde said. “These are people who worked an entire career under the promise that they would have good health care later on.”

Privatized medicine is essentially a cancer, and I've had cancer. When I had cancer, I remember getting a bill for thousands of dollars from a hospital, thinking I should not be getting this bill, and paying it because I simply did not have the energy to fight over it. That was bad, but plenty of Americans have it way worse, up to and including dying for lack of health care. I've personally known two people who'vc lost their lives this way, and that's what guides my belief that we need something like Medicare for All.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but whoever signs up with Joe is paying for not only the benefits he touts, (and who's to say what the quality of those benefits may be?), but also Joe himself, whose name and image I don't suppose comes cheap. And as expensive as Joe may be, there is a whole layer of other people who aren't health care providers profiting off of this plan. There's the ad agency that hired Joe, the people who do his makeup, some CEO, and a whole bunch of people whose job it is to decide whether or not you get coverage for this or that.

I have friends who have Medicare, and they tell me they can choose any doctor they wish. I don't know anyone who complains about Medicare. On the other hand, if you have Part C, or privatized Medicare, the doctor you need may be out of network, and too bad for you. Make no mistake, this can be a serious limitation. And here's another little tidbit from that article:

That was when he ran up against one of the least understood implications of selecting Advantage when you enroll in Medicare: The decision is effectively irrevocable.

It's really hard to see the Advantage in that. And it's really disappointing to imagine that Bill de Blasio or union leadership would want to paint us into a corner like that. De Blasio, an ostensible progressive, and we as unionists ought to be moving to make insurance a public service, not a profit center. It's a national disgrace that there is no public option for all Americans to have health insurance. Removing that option from people who've served the city for decades is moving in precisely the opposite direction of where we and America need to be.

It's one thing to ask new hires, many of whom won't be around for long, to use HIP for a year. It's quite another to tell people who've served the city for decades, people who are far more likely to have serious health problems, to seriously and irrevocably limit their medical care options. Both de Blasio and the unions, all of whom support national health care, ought to go back to the drawing board and find an ethical and acceptable way forward. 

Joe Namath ain't it. 

Update: In the Chief ($), the city seems to confirm that it's seeking an Advantage plan, but swears up and down that it will include all the services of government-run Medicare.

blog comments powered by Disqus