Good Health and Good Stewardship, by Bishop Council Nedd II

nedd_smThroughout the Bible, there are passages suggesting that much is expected from those to whom much is given.

One of the greatest gifts God has given his people on earth is the gift of good health.  Like all gifts, however, competent stewardship is required.

Stewardship of health is normally one’s own responsibility.  In the case of the aged, that responsibility often falls to others.  Grown sons and daughters are finding themselves in a role-reversal as they are required to make medical and other decisions for their elderly parents.

Until recently, old age was synonymous with chronic illnesses and infirmity.  Today, life expectancy is at an all-time high in America and people are living and thriving despite ailments that would be considered a death sentence just a few years ago.

Until the advent of Medicare, many senior households faced financial devastation due to the bills that accompanied hospitalizations and surgical procedures.  Now in its third year, the Medicare prescription drug program – also known as Medicare Part D – offers hope and financial relief to struggling seniors.

Medicare Part D receives rave reviews, and it is saving millions of Americans from potential financial catastrophe due to the high cost of prescription drugs.

Having never personally been a fan of over-intrusive government, I was initially skeptical of the new Medicare offering.  Until 2005, Medicare strictly adhered to its original 1965 model of not offering prescription drug coverage or emphasizing preventive care or disease prevention.

Passage of the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, however, now provides a first-of-its-kind prescription drug benefit for Medicare beneficiaries.  Seniors can now live healthier at the same time as taxpayers are saving money.

Medicare also now truly reflects the realities of 21st century health care.

Diabetes and hypertension, which once devastated the black community, can now be fought and managed with medications never imagined even 20 years ago.  On the other hand, dementia and Alzheimer’s, which were once relatively rare, are now more commonplace as people live longer.

While new drugs are showing great promise with Alzheimer’s and other maladies, costs related to the research that goes into developing new medicines sometimes makes it hard for some Americans to afford them.

For the 39 million Americans who are eligible, Medicare Part D is addressing this problem.  It goes a long way toward eliminating a terrible problem many seniors face – the choice of buying food or paying for prescription drugs.

Right now, it is “open season” for Medicare enrollment.  Through December 31st, seniors can sign up for the Medicare prescription drug benefit or make changes to their current prescription drug plans.

Something that people should keep in mind is that many factors may cause their prescription drug needs to change from year to year.  The plan that was the best for someone in 2008 may not be the best plan in 2009.  That is why this time is also important to those already enrolled in Medicare Part D to pay attention at this time.

On top of helping with prescription costs, Medicare in general also offers early detection screenings for cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well as wellness exams.  Not only can these things hopefully lead to Americans living longer, but also allow them to live healthier lives.

It was once thought that Medicare Part D would cause drug prices to increase.  That has not been the case.  Instead, prices have remained level, and the price of many generic drugs have actually decreased.

Medicare Part D is not the panacea that will cure all the ills of the American health care system, but it continues to be one giant leap in the right direction.

If you qualify for these medical benefits, take advantage of what they offering today!

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Project 21 member Bishop Council Nedd II is the executive director of the Alliance for Health Education and Development.  Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.


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