Thursday, October 06, 2005

Medicare Overhaul + Bush Administration = Screwed over Elderly: The Finale

Episode 3 – Revenge of the Bush(League)

The last two days I have been informing you about the dangers of the new Medicare program. (The program is not good) Today, the third and final installment, I offer a brief recap and some information about the marketing of Medicare.

Yes, it offers some modest benefits. But it is designed to confuse and bewilder seniors. The ongoing war Mr. Bush is waging against our most vulnerable citizens enters a new phase (the second phase, social security reform, has been put on the back burner due to the turmoil in the Bush Administration AND the Republican party - sorry, I just have to laugh.)

I am not looking out for myself, but rather my parents, my in-laws, and my aunts and uncles who are getting up there in age. They can talk to me (or my Dad who was in the insurance field for close to 30 years), but a lot of seniors don't have relatives to help them figure out this morass. As I mentioned yesterday, some of them are being forced to hire outside people to get assistance – that is not good.

What will they do? And what mistakes will they make? I suspect they'll turn to Medicare for assistance or pay attention to the marketing that is occurring for the new Medicare program.

My esteemed colleague, Scott, thinks that "the promotion and marketing is intimidating by design. The administration was pushed into creating this and are going to market this to either make the insurance companies lots of money, or be able to point at the failure of the program and say 'we created this beacuse you all said you wanted it, but no one is using it...' "

I couldn't have said it any better myself Scott.

Thinking about what he said, I was reminded of an ad I saw the other day that was touting the benefits of the prescription drug benefit that stars Carol Burnett. When they have to roll out an actor or actress from the 50s and 60s to lure seniors to enroll, you know we are in trouble. Who’s next? Well, they would probably use Barbara Bush if she hadn’t stuck her foot in her mouth about the hurricane. Nancy Reagan can’t be far behind.

In fact, PacifiCare Health Systems is using a famous couple from the 50’s to market their Medicare program. Fred and Ethel Mertz, the constantly quarreling couple from the 1950’s I Love Lucy TV show, are being used to promote the company’s new stand-alone Medicare prescription plan, which will be available nationwide.

"Through the magic of Hollywood, famously tightfisted Fred (William Frawley) and his irascible wife, Ethel (Vivian Vance), are brought back to life in a series of entertaining vignettes," the California-based insurer, who has dubbed its huge Medicare marketing campaign “Choice is swell.” said in a release about its new television advertising campaign. (And you thought Bing Crosby dancing with a vacuum cleaner or John Wayne hawking beer were bad…)

Using body doubles, voice impersonators and computer-generated imagery, the national TV ads that are going to premiere in mid-October will enable the two long-dead actors to "speak" once more.

And, oddly enough, instead of talking about how they have come back to life, they will instead be talking about PacifiCare's new drug plan. Technology – gotta love it.

Viewers who remember the real Fred and Ethel might wonder if transforming them into spokespeople for private Medicare plans is such a “swell” idea.

What's next? Ricky selling cigars? Lucy shilling for cemetery plans? How about little Ricky pushing which nursing home to send his mother?

Make no mistake about it, the prescription drug benefit was designed to intimidate and the marketing is designed to pander to their sense of the ‘good ol’ days’. The prescription drug benefit was formulated with only one beneficiary in mind and that was the pharmaceutical industry.

Medicare (which Mr. Bush is trying to destroy or privatize or whatever he and the GOP wants to call it) was created on the idea that we as a society have a moral obligation to be responsible for the health care needs of the elderly. This was one of the crowning achievements of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society legislation.

So there you have it, Dubya is trying to destroy one President’s lasting and giving legacy, in order to create one for himself.

It’s just sad…

1 comment:

Marck said...

I read the stuff my parents got. You are 100% correct, it;s confusing as hell...