Friday, December 23, 2011

Not Only Is It Time To Raise the Age of OAS, But I Think It's Time To Correctly Define The Age of a Senior for OHIP Purposes

Old Age Security (OAS), in Canada, still kicks in at 65, unlike the U.S. (67) and the U.K. (68). And, there is a debate that we need to raise it, or else, we will be increasing government costs by $12 Billion in the next 5 years ( that's a 33% jump from 2010 costs).

I'm not sure that I understand this issue. I turned 65 in January, 2011. In February, I got a deposit from Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) of approximately $500 into my bank account for OAS. In March, I got a 'nasty' letter from CRA saying I earn too much money to qualify for OAS and, they're not going to give it to me until or unless I can prove them wrong. My friend the Professor, who also turned 65 this year, got the same sequence of money-letter-no more money correspondence as I did. We laughed about the tone of the letter, but both agreed, we were glad that Canada wasn't wasting its precious OAS money on the likes of us, two working stiffs who didn't need it yet.

The other big change that occurred in my financial relationship with the government now that I'm 65 concerns who pays for my prescription drugs. I caught a cold from the grandkids (too much kissing!) and it turned into bronchitis. The cold was a cold, but, when it didn't get better in a week, I was finally diagnosed with bronchitis. It knocked me for a loop and I am just now feeling well enough to spend the day at my desk instead of watching daytime TV. (I couldn't even motivate myself to read, yikes). It wasn't a total waste of time, however, as I learned that God loves me (Huntley TV Show), that American politicians, read that Republicans, are still mostly crazy, and that Ellen really does have much more rhythm than I do. (I AM SO JEALOUS). I also learned that you can watch the same episode of Flashpoint on Bravo at least 3 times during the same day, and that the number of people who are murdered or caught in the cross fire, on TV in one day is competitive with Syrian Governments efforts to wipe out its citizens.

Back to prescription drugs. I have a health plan, I pay into it monthly, I am still employed, until I turned 65, about 80% of my drug costs (after a deductible) were covered by the plan. I haven't had a prescription filled in years, and can't remember the exact date of when I last required a prescription drug. (My heart belongs to the miracle science, Osteopathy and the miracle medicine Ibuprofen, which works better and has less side effects than my previous backache medicine , Canadian Whiskey). So, to cure my December bronchitis, I take the prescription for 3 different medicines, an antibiotic, a nasal passage opener, and a nasal passage steroid) to my pharmacist. Our pharmacist has not changed since 1981, when he first opened up shop in a strip mall which was within walking distance to our old house. I know him and his wife, and he really knows everything about our clan. I'm sure he knows things about my teenage daughters that to this date, my Bride still hasn't told me. Beauty and her girls share everything, and I mean EVERYTHING. Us boys are like spies in a Le Carré novel, we are definitely left out in the cold. And, while I can't speak for the other 3, I think I like it that way. I need a buffer between what really goes on in life and what a father needs to know. I certainly think that in my early years, my parents needed that buffer.

The cost of the drugs was over $100. Considering it was my first prescription being filled this calendar year, I probably would have paid all of it out of my deductible. Wrong. I paid ZERO. Why, I ask the Pharmacist. He explains, "Welcome to the club". "Now that I'm a senior, OHIP pays my prescriptions." That doesn't make sense.

I think OHIP for seniors should be like OAS. If I'm still working and have enough income to afford a health care plan, let me pay for it. Save the money for those who need it. I told that to Mr. Pharmacist, and he said, "I'm one in a thousand." The prevailing attitude is, I paid in all these years, it's my money. Oh please. When us sixty somethings started paying in, we were forced to retire at 65, and didn't have the medical technology to keep us alive for more than another 10 years after retirement (if we were lucky). Today, we're still working at 65, we probably will for at least another 5 years, and then, with the help of modern science, exercise, lack of cigarette smoke in our world, and a better understanding of diet, we intend to live another 10-15 years after that. So, we will be a much bigger burden on the system than our parents ever where.

Further, there are sooo many of us. Of course we're going to break the system if we aren't willing to sacrifice for the good of our kids and their kids, and so on.
So, in the new year, I intend to call my MPP, Harinder Takhar and tell him that I have an idea how the government can save a few bucks without cutting services to anyone who really needs them. You should do the same, not call Harinder, but, call your MPP.

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