The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Donuts rot more than seniors’ teeth

Aug 7, 2006

At least three million seniors have fallen into the “doughnut hole” – the great big gap in coverage under Medicare Part D. This new program was supposedly designed to help older people with their prescription drug costs. Instead, it turns out to be a scam by which Congress shifts more money to drug companies, while leaving the elderly balanced on the edge of disaster or even death.

Everyone knew the program had co-pays and even deductibles, so that seniors were responsible for $2,250 in drug costs. But what few people understood was that the entire cost of the drug was included in the $2,250 total: not only what you pay, but what your medical insurance company pays, too. That means anyone with expensive prescriptions or a lot of prescriptions was at risk of falling into the “doughnut hole” – the place where no more drugs are covered by insurance – much sooner than expected. For those who have spent the $2,250 already, the next $2,850 must come out of their own pockets before insurance kicks back in.

Given the lower than average income levels of seniors, those who cannot pay for the drugs will have to go without. Will it make a difference? Of course.

A study done by the Kaiser Family Foundation already had looked into what happened to 157,000 people whose drug prescriptions were capped off by their insurance companies. Their death rates were 22% higher than those whose benefits were not limited.

This is the “benefit” that Congress and the president gave to seniors.