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'The Card': I won't leave home without it

Mac Gordon

Mac Gordon

The Class of 1965 turns 65 this year -- a historic occasion despite it being only the 47th anniversary of our cap-and-gown ceremony.

I agree that the 47th anniversary of any event would not normally seem very momentous. Usually, you would celebrate it on the 50th, or "golden," anniversary of the noteworthy occasion.

Momentarily, I will explain why this year, 2012, is so golden to the Class of '65. First, consider why 1965 was such a substantial year for our country and beyond:

-- U.S. Marines became the first American combat troops on the ground in Vietnam. Many of our classmates would eventually fight and die there, while others fled the draft and the country to avoid the battlefield;

-- Lyndon Johnson took the oath for his only full term as president and announced his "Great Society";

-- Viola Liuzzo, a white Detroit housewife, was ambushed and killed by the Klan along U.S. Highway 80 in western Alabama as she drove activists back to Selma after a civil rights march;

-- "The Sound of Music" had its premiere;

-- The Beatles played before 55,000 in New York's Shea Stadium;

-- And Bob Dylan released his fabled song, "Like a Rolling Stone."

And all that took place in the first four months of the year.

Before the year ended, Johnson had signed into law the Voting Rights Act, bringing down the final barriers to blacks' full participation in our elections, and American troop numbers in Vietnam had reached upwards of 150,000.

Yes, it is hard to forget 1965.

As turbulent as that year was, those events are only a sidebar to my real reason for writing this column. It is to announce (slight drum roll, please):

Medicare eligibility is upon us!

Get ready, physicians of the world, my class is waiting just outside your door, eager to present your receptionist with The Card.

My wife, being the senior person under our roof, has already gotten hers, despite not actually being 65 yet. My 65th birthday is two months later, but I am also receiving a bevy of mail from companies that somehow know when we were born, the time of the birth, where it occurred and who our people were.

Insurance companies are the most persistent mailers, of course. As Medicare novices understand things, The Card will not pay all of our medical expenses, which heretofore have just about bankrupted us. These firms want to sell us their "supplement," supposedly filling the financial gap after The Card pays all it will pay.

I have heard dozens of opinions about which insurance supplement is the best. After finding the "right" one for hospital and doctors' charges, we'll also need a pharmacy connection. We are told to really study the pharmaceutical end of Medicare to get the best deal.

The U.S. Congress keeps threatening to reduce the amount of reimbursement that the government makes to physicians and other health-care providers and facilities for treating Medicare patients. However, I seriously doubt our beloved lawmakers can muster the courage required to make those cuts, so relax, doctors.

Decisions, decisions abound as we turn 65. We say bring it on, baby, bring it on.

Mac Gordon is a retired reporter who lives near Blakely and writes an occasional opinion column for The Albany Herald.