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November 2015

Medicare Open Enrollment: Time to Re-evaluate Your Plan and Help Prevent Scams

Washington Watch


Medicare’s open enrollment period is a really good time to re-evaluate your plan and see if you are getting the best deal you can. But the old adage, if you like your plan stick with it, no longer applies.


There will be sticker shock from some dramatic price hikes and co-pay increases in Part D prescription drug costs. Just look at the recent case of Daraprim, the medicine to treat malaria-related parasites, which jumped in price from $13.50 to an astronomical $750 a pill – yes you read that correctly – before the outrage got so pronounced that the new owners backed off.


While that became the poster-child for out-of-control drug prices, lots of other far more common prescription drugs have shot up. Many health insurance programs cover all your meds, but many others place a cap on the total cost – for many it’s $1,500 a year. That’s for the amount that is recovered from the insurance company, so it doesn’t go far for most seniors who average several routine prescriptions; many get a supplemental drug plan to cover the costs.


The latest study, AARP’s Rx Price Watch Report from November 2014, found the average retail price of more than 200 brand name drugs jumped nearly 13 percent in 2013. These include medicines for diabetes, high cholesterol and treating hypertension. Certain generic prices also jumped dramatically, like doxycycline hyclate, the commonly used antibiotic which soared from $20 for 500 capsules to $1,849 for the same amount between October 2013 and April 2014. But that same AARP analysis found that of 280 generic prescriptions, there was a 4 percent decline in prices. A new AARP RX Price Watch is expected late in November.


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TV or Not TV? That Is the Question

Ernie’s World


I usually golf on the day after Thanksgiving, so my only Black Friday experience is watching my golf ball sail majestically through the air only to land smack dab in the middle of the water feature – for the fourth time. And I think there are a lot of people like me. That’s why there are so many golf ball manufacturers.


It’s also why, this year, the retail industry decided to expand Black Friday.


It started with Off-white Wednesday, then Gray Thursday, Black Friday and Olive Saturday. By then I’d lost so many golf balls in the little lake that the ducks began throwing them back at me. So, when Silver-Lining Sunday came along, I figured “What the hell” I’d better buy something.


“How about a golf lesson?” my wife suggested. “Or stock in Titleist?”


But I had a better idea. “I could learn more watching golf on one of those humongous televisions they are practically giving away.”


The technology has changed a bit since our last set. For instance, most people mount their televisions on the wall now. I tried that but then I couldn’t adjust the rabbit ears, plus the weight of the mahogany cabinet caused some of the plaster to fall off. ”


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