Ever since I became a freelance technical writer and consultant, I’ve have to pay an eye-watering amount for health insurance.

Even then, my insurance doesn’t cover things that I would think would be no-brainers. As one example, about six months ago my doctor prescribed a tube of Denavir cream for use with cold sores / fever blisters.

This tube is so small that — if it were any smaller — it wouldn’t actually be able to hold any cream. It’s only available by prescription in the USA, but the equivalent can be purchased over the counter in the UK for about 5 UK pounds, which would be about $6.90 USD.

However, when I went to the pharmacist, they said that my insurance wouldn’t cover it and so the charge would be $600. At first, I thought I’d developed a hearing problem, but they were adamant that I was hearing what they were saying. Fortunately, there was nothing wrong with my legs, so I instructed them to rotate my body through 180 degrees and take me home.

Ever since I moved to the USA, I’ve heard about Medicare, which is a national health insurance program that primarily provides health insurance for Americans and Permanent Residents aged 65 and older.

To be honest, I never really paid much attention to things like this on the basis that I could worry about it when I got older. Then I got older. I’ll be 65 next year and I understand that I have to sign up for Medicare about three months in advance of my birthday.

The great thing about Medicare is that I’ll be paying much, much less than I’m paying now. The problem is that it’s not a simple as saying, “Hello, I’d like to sign up for Medicare please.” It turns out that there are Medicare Parts A, B, C, and D plans, and Medicare Supplements, and Medicare Advantage Plans. There are also myriad companies that provide these plans, each one saying that they are better than all the others.

I like to think that I’m reasonably intelligent — at least with respect to some things — but when it comes to Medicare, I haven’t got a clue what to do.

Does it really have to be this complicated?