"Raising the retirement age would inflict further hardship among a group of workers who are likely to face health and economic problems in their 60s." –Doug Hart, President, Arizona Alliance for Retired Americans
"Of all the lies and confusion that still surround the Affordable Care Act, perhaps the greatest is that it is bad for seniors." - Dave Meinell, President, Missouri Alliance for Retired Americans
"My father died when I was three. Because of Social Security (survivors) benefits, my Mom, my younger sister and I survived." – Diane Fleming, DC Alliance Member
"We fear that Congress will balance the budget on the backs of the 98 percent, which is working Montanans and retired Montanans. We simply cannot afford these devastating cuts to vital services such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid," –John Forkan, President, Montana Alliance for Retired Americans
"Along with national parks and Social Security, Medicare is one of the best ideas we Americans have ever devised." -Tim Cunningham, New Mexico Alliance Member
"Seniors have earned and deserve their Social Security checks, and they shouldn't have to go to Congress every 10 years and beg for the program to be renewed." –James Parent, Alliance for Retired Americans Regional Board Member
"Today's retirees paid Medicare and Social Security taxes in every paycheck we ever earned. Now that we are retired, these programs help us to be able to stay healthy and pay our bills. They are the promise we make to people who worked hard all their lives, and we need to keep that promise for today’s workers." –Tony Fransetta, President, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans
"Today's seniors want to lower the budget deficit. We do not want a large debt to be the legacy we leave to future generations, but we should not punish people who have paid Social Security taxes all their lives." –Jim Moore, President, North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans
"Social Security should remain what it has been for 77 years – a solid, reliable way that generations of workers have been able to retire with dignity, economic security, and peace of mind." –Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The fight for Social Security and Medicare is part of a larger fight for justice and fairness"—Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
"The health insurance reform helps not just seniors, but also middle-class families and young Americans, who are just starting to see the benefits. Don’t let Republicans take all that away." –Don Rowen, President Emeritus, Iowa Alliance for Retired Americans
"Honoring the promise of Social Security and Medicare should not be a partisan issue. Honoring the contributions that we make throughout our working years so that we may feed and clothe ourselves, keep a roof over our heads and those of our family, there is no reason for that to be a hotly contested partisan issue." –Edward Coyle, Executive Director, Alliance for Retired Americans
"We need to make sure that people who need Social Security to make ends meet will have it, and not fall victim to ill-informed and unnecessary cuts to these vital programs."
–Barbara J. Easterling, President, Alliance for Retired Americans
On July 30th, Medicare turns 48. That marks 48 years of improving the ability of seniors and people with disabilities to see a doctor or fill a prescription. Health care is expensive and Medicare helps --- but politicians in Washington are keeping Medicare cuts on the table in budget deficit deal negotiations.
We gathered stories from retirees across the country who benefit from Medicare but still struggle to keep up with out-of-pocket costs to illustrate that now is not the time to cut this valuable program or shift costs onto beneficiaries. The fact of the matter is that future generations will need Medicare and there are ways to strengthen the program, such as negotiating the lowest rates for prescription drugs with big pharma, that would save billions of dollars and would not require shifting costs onto beneficiaries.
Read these real stories to see what it's like for retirees and why shifting more costs onto beneficiaries would be a disaster (Submit your own story here). You can also help us protect Medicare by urging Congress to co-sponsor the Medicare Drug Savings Act.
Michael Madamas of West Springfield, MA: "My prescriptions take 1/5 of my income. Between my prescriptions and medical expenses my life savings were wiped out in about five years. I now live check to check."
Sharon Forrest of Atlanta, GA: "My health deteriorated steadily for years while I was uninsured and unable to purchase insurance. Once I received Medicare, I thought I was going to be all right. Then the reality of the co-pays set in. I am very careful about how much medical care I get and constantly turn down the recommended therapies because I can't afford them. Now the doctors are beginning to say there is nothing else they can do."
Alice Metzger of Houston, TX: "Fortunately, I have not reached the peak of having to decide if I buy groceries or medicine. However, I have had to wait to order my prescriptions until I get my Social Security check because I am usually penniless by mid-month. I feel heavily for all the people who pay sooo much for health care monthly and prescriptions. My own sister pays more than $300 per month to maintain her healthcare insurance. I am greatly disturbed by the bureaucracy of politicians whose pockets run deep and don't seem to care about the people who put them in office except for the BIG businesses that take care of them. I have diabetes and high blood pressure as well as other ills and paying for my meds, even with Medicare and Humana, I struggle to meet my other bills and buy food."
From Candler, NC: "I avoid medical care because I'm afraid of the costs. I went for a "free" colonscopy and ended up paying $262. I'm terrified of having any serious medical problem that would require hospitalization because there is no way I could afford it. I'm living on Social Security and am disabled, my husband is unemployed and Medicare is my only insurance."
Robert Ziegler of Casselberry, FL: "I'm a 61 yr. old disabled male trying to live on a very austere fixed income. My Dr. has prescribed seven different medications for my condition. I CAN ONLY AFFORD TWO, therefore my days are riddled with debilitating pain most of the time, and I still have to exist on peanut butter and brown rice during the last ten days of the month because of a money shortage. ... I can only afford what the government provides for free. The hospitalization portion."
From Louisville, CO "I just went on Medicare and my company may take away my supplemental insurance. If that happens, the copay for my drug will be $1000 a month thru Medicare. It is Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis and costs $2300 a month. I will not be able to take it. To me that means I could end up in a wheel chair even though I worked and has ins. for over 42 years. I am very worried."
From Richardson, TX: "Before we fill a new prescription, we ask the pharmacist what the cost will be. Sometimes, a new prescription is several hundred dollars. So we tell her not to fill the prescription, that we will call the doctor and explain that the prescription is not affordable and ask her to prescribe something else that is suitable. The doctor is willing to help out, but sometimes the only choice she has is to prescribe something not as suitable or as powerful. Our other option is to embarrass ourselves by asking for samples. But samples are not always available."
Ron Davis of Mansfield, OH: "I have worked at hard labor for 40 years in a steel mill to retire in hopes of enjoying my late years. I have good insurance but the costs to keep it continue to climb every year. So it seems I have only worked to pay for medical care but not a retirement to freely enjoy. The longer I live the less I live on!!!"
Joseph Simmons of Albany, NY: "I can't afford my $35.00 co-pay for specialist visits or my 20% co-pay for durable medical apparatus."
Bozidar Kornic of North Port, FL: "This past February, I was in the hospital for 23 hours treated for 'heart' problems. My total bill was over $18,000 and of all the medications given to me was ONE ASPIRIN, and a whole lot of tests for my heart. I am 72, and live on a fixed income of SS only. There was nothing wrong with my heart. I believe that I had a stomach flu."
Julie MacGregor of Baltimore, MD: "In addition to the deductible, copays, premium for drug plan and its related copays on what it does cover ... I was horrified to learn Medicare has NO coverage for hearing loss or HEARING AIDS. I cannot afford the $800 to $5,000 they cost.... I am left to suffer with it and it really annoys others I've noticed. And no dental or vision at all. i don't feel a bright future. i fear an increasingly isolated future and I'm only 56! I'm surprised and very disappointed."
Senior from Huntsville, AL: "My husband now takes 19 prescriptions and i take 3. The majority of his medicine has a co-pay of $75.00 for a 90 day supply. Then we have 7 doctors and hospital bills. We certainly need all the help we can get."
Tim Holmen of Dayton, OH: "I don't have a hardship story to share but am writing to say that every American should have the opportunities and benefits I have. Thus I support your efforts and would be willing to give up some of my benefits or pay extra if it would mean that every citizen could have medical, prescription, and other benefits such as I do. Unfortunately, we seem to live in a society of "haves" and "have nots" with many of those in the "have" category feeling that if they made it, why can't those in the "have not" category also take care of themselves. With so much greed in our society, the "haves" think anybody who receives any assistance is "sponging" and taking from those who have. I'm a retired Air Force officer, and also a retired state/county employee. My wife is a retired teacher. We are living comfortably and are blessed to be covered by good medical and prescription insurance. However, we don't think those who receive assistance are "takers" and we empathize with them. We'd like to see those in the upper 1 percent income level try to live on the minimum wage level and provide for their own medical, dental, and prescription coverage plus save for retirement."
Marty Walsh of Glendale, MO: "I have the usual story - and a reminder. I do live primarily on Social Security, so if Medicare cuts payments, my costs will go up. It will be tough. Reminder: Republicans want to "privatize" Medicare (like it is a revolutionary solution. We HAVE privatized Medicare, with over 25% of seniors getting coverage from private carriers. Guess What. It costs about $16B more annually than if they had regular Medicare. Put all seniors in private plans and the cost goes to $64B. Government does not want to pay. That leaves me! I definitely cannot afford that."
Joan Schneider of River Falls, WI: "My medication cost, while in the donut hole, can run over $500.00 per month. That is simply a cost which is most difficult to pay so I must change my budget by making several tough decisions. Do I purchase gas to watch my grandchildren appear in an event or do I purchase my medication..?? Should I take 1/2 of the medication dose and purchase gas or pay my doctor's bill? Should I skip my medication on certain days to be able to pay my bills??? Should I change my supplemental insurance so I could afford the medication? Thankfully, Obamacare has begun to close the donut hole and it will close completely in a few more years.
I felt I did most things right as I had good group health coverage including drug costs but when Part D came into law my union health insurance (WEA Trust) was not permitted to be a part of Medicare Part D. Consequently, I was left without the good coverage I had worked for and planned on having.
I really need to take the proper medication so I can stay as well as possible and to save Medicare money by staying out of the hospital. This could be solved or helped by permitting the government to place the medications out for bid."
Gladys Hampton of GREENBELT, MD: "I have had trouble with affording medical or prescription drug bills. I cannot afford health care copays and also some of the medication I take is not doing as well as the regular medications that I use to take. I don't understand why congress want to cut back on medicare and Social Security benefits. I worked hard for the right to get reasonable benefits. Congress want to cut back on seniors benefits that they worked hard for, yet they haven't hardly work the last 4 years while in congress. I think it is a shame for the workers that have worked hard all their life and the people that hardly work (Congress) get to set the rules about Medicare and Social Security."
Burton Schwartz of Port Jeff Sta, NY: "Medicare I can rely on, but the backup coverage is the real hassle. Every time we have to deal with other insurance for co-pays etc, it's a problem and hours spent on the phone fighting for what is covered."
Patricia Donnelly of Harbor Beach, MI: "My husband and I, both retired and living on a fixed income, do pay for additional health care coverage. The premiums do rise annually, but not as much as the cost of health care. We do not have prescription coverage, so we pay out-of-pocket for them. The costs are prohibitive and we buy generic. If necessary, we order through Canadian pharmacies for further reduction of costs. Can't we negotiate, as other countries do, for lower costs?"