Lum: Check out your insurance policies

Su Lum

When I first became eligible for Medicare, I was advised to stay on my Aspen Times health-insurance policy because the coverage was better. But as time passed, the work insurance cost more and covered less, while the Medicare insurance started covering more, and I’ve never regretted that I finally made the switch.

Since I have a lot of things wrong with me and Medicare pays 80 percent, I shopped around and ended up buying supplemental insurance from Anthem (Blue Cross) and prescription insurance from Humana, both highly recommended.

Last week, I took a list of my meds to Carl’s Pharmacy (do not even get me started on the mail-order drugs) to see how much my insurance was saving me. I do this every five or six years in an attempt to keep track of things. Nicole Dreon, the sweet tech in the pharmacy department, wrote down the retail prices on my list and gave me a printout of my medication charges for comparison.

Shock! One month’s worth of my drugs at retail would have cost $1,143, while my insured cost was $248. Adding in $60 per month for over-the-counter eye pills, Prilosec and calcium, that’s a hefty insured cost of $300 per month, but it’s a giant step better than an uninsured $1,200.

Most of the meds in the $25-to-$50 range cost me $5. The generic (generic!) version of the antibiotic Bioxin retails for $96.50 and cost me $7. Higher on the scale, I paid $43 each for Tricor (retail $234.50), a quarter teaspoon of eye drops ($195.50) and a Dulera inhaler (a whopping $266.50).

On the Anthem side, all office visits, tests, physical therapy and hospital costs were completely covered. I this is Obamacare, I like it.


Last fall, little Ricky ate one of my hearing aids. Ricky, who lives with his owner in my back shed, is a sweet, bouncy rescue-dog youngster, part min-pin (miniature pinscher) and part basenji (he doesn’t bark, a blessing), who looks like a combination of a Chihuahua and a gazelle. On his long, slender legs, he can leap tall buildings in a single bound, and thus it was that he leapt up on the kitchen table and ate my one remaining hearing aid.

I had lost the first one a few days before. I had been out running errands, and when I returned home, one of them had disappeared. A search was mounted to no avail, so I had been limping along with one, contemplating my options, when I found the corpse of the second one in the dog bed.

Off to my audiologist, Terry Burke, and the story had a happy ending in that the new hearing aids on the market were far superior to the ones that were lost and eaten. The bad news was that it cost $7,000 to replace them.

I called my homeowner’s insurance company, certain that I would be reimbursed for at least one of them if not both. The only claim I had made on the policy I had held since 1972 was for the time a young man in a state of disrepair drove across the highway, knocked another car into my fence and almost into my house, spat out a couple of teeth and left me and several neighbors to eat our deductibles.

The bad news was that there was no coverage for loss. If the hearing aids had been stolen, I’d have a case. “Yes, but Ricky did steal my hearing aid,” I protested. Ah, but Ricky did not have the intent to steal — that was the defining difference. So sorry.

Su Lum is a longtime local who thinks Ricky had every intent to steal the hearing aid and urges you to read the fine print. This column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach Su at


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