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Seniors faced with mountain of health data
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Recently retired, I signed up for a Medicare advantage policy with a local provider I know and feel comfortable with. On enrolling I got a large envelope with booklets, letters and a 3-pound (2.8 pounds by the scale) Evidence of Coverage (EOC) book. Because my health needs aren't great I just glanced at parts of the EOC about doctors and prescriptions.

Then the other day the 2014 EOC big book came and I had to give it more attention because there were changes to the plan — mainly cost increases. These EOC books are large because they have to detail the health coverage, rules and regulations; complaints, appeals and other legally required information. I don't fault the plan provider or the government regulations requiring the information for the consumer, but a system that requires seniors to make informed decisions about important health care with such an overload of hard-to-understand information is kind of crazy.

As our mental abilities decline, we are required to deal with increasingly complex material affecting our health care. If I were 10 years more into my seniorhood, I might have just given up trying to make sense of pounds of health coverage information.

I don't have a solution. There are websites (when not in shutdown) and Medicare phone lines, but some seniors don't use computers, and explaining health care options on the phone can be as difficult for some as reading a nearly 3-pound book. Maybe there is a country that has a simpler system that we could copy.

Oliver Nichelson

American Fork

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