Medicare Plan Too Complicated to Help

Web Producer: Amber Griswold

Last week, the government unveiled the details of the new Medicare prescription drug benefit for seniors, but some advocacy groups worry that the information is too confusing for patients to understand.

Are the new measures too complex to help?

Last year's State of the Union Address said seniors happy with the current Medicare system should be able to keep their coverage just the way it is.

In December, President Bush signed a law that was designed to enhance the system by adding a prescription drug benefit.

And the task is to make sure our seniors get the best health care possible.

But what exactly are those changes?

Just last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson unveiled the detailed regulations, almost two-thousand pages of fine print.

It's complicated and confusing say advocacy groups, even the AARP, which supports the idea.

David Certner of AARP said, "I think it's very difficult for the average individual to wade through the hundreds if not thousands of pages of regulations that deal with very technical and very specific issues."

Some critics say not everyone will reap equal benefits from the plan.

Michael Tanner of Cato Institute commented, "The people who are the losers are people somewhere in the middle."

But with all those complicated regulations, how do medicare recipients figure out how it effects them?

Certner explained, "Certainly individuals right now can call 1-800-medicare to get additional information about the Medicare discount card as well as the implementation of the new law.

But that won't help everybody who needs it.

Tanner said, "It's sort of like building a bridge and you build both ends of the bridge and you leave out the center span and you know, expect people to get across.".

Ambitious proposals meant to help seniors, are leaving seniors saying they remain too hard to understand.

Medicare officials emphasize that the prescription drug benefit plan is a work in progress and they welcome the public's input as they finalize the regulations.

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