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If a person is not independently wealthy, medicare is essential. For practical purposes insurance companies will not write health insurance for people over 65. One exception is the few business that offer insurance to retirees. These are all large companies with thousands of retirees -- that is the only way the risks can be held to a reasonable level.

My father had some complications with a heart valve replacement in 1995. He was in ICU for 12 days. The cost of just that part of hospital stay was over $10,000 per day. Certainly costs have increased in 17 years and heart valve replacement is hardly and uncommon surgery.

In my view people need to be either wealthy or of limited means not to have media-gap or go with the Advantage plans. It is not hard to run up co-pays and deductibles of several thousand dollars.

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