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This from Slate.com's Today's Papers on Sunday:

The New York Times leads with widespread confusion among seniors as they try to decipher the new Medicare drug plan...

According to a recent poll, 65 percent of people over age 64 do not understand the new Medicare drug benefit, reports the Times. The feature goes on to quote frustrated senior citizens at local informational meetings around the country. TP is sure that this confusion is real, but it's worth asking: Is the new drug plan needlessly complicated, or just complicated in the manner of all large programs? A septuagenarian in Kansas complained to the Times that "for the average person, [it's] almost impossible" to figure out which new plans cover specific drugs. To test this assertion, TP went to www.medicare.gov. He clicked on the "Prescription Drug Coverage" link, then the "Formulary (Drug List) Finder" link, entered his state and the name of a moderately popular antipsychotic (Seroquel), and was immediately given a hot-linked list of five plans that cover this drug in Washington state. Granted, TP is probably a little more tech-savvy than the average senior (who probably has trouble just programming his VCR), but at first glance the law may not be quite as needlessly bureaucratic as the Times piece implies...

"This Drug Benefit Brought to You By…": Before TP went to www.medicare.gov he accidentally typed in www.medicare.org. This took him to a site purporting to be "A Resource for Medicare Information," with an official-looking seal—featuring a bald eagle—at the top. He clicked on the "Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit" link and was taken to … www.gop.com. Needless to say, TP found no information about the drug benefit. Instead, he was invited to sign a petition in favor of Judge Alito and to read about the strong and valuable leadership of Sen. Rick Santorum.

Posted by Christopher Dorobek on Nov 14, 2005 at 12:15 PM


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