Mike Berry column: Nothing certain but death and taxes (and commercials)

Mike Berry

I realize that it’s a little late to reveal what we’re thankful for, but here goes. . .

I’m thankful, of course, for the things everyone cites — friends, family, food and so on. But Thanksgiving was also a time to be thankful that the immense onslaught of political commercials was finally over.

Those stopped running a few weeks before Thanksgiving, but no longer hearing “She’s a fraud!” barked at us was a good reason to give thanks.

And just this week, we can be thankful again: The Medicare Advantage enrollment deadline has finally passed and those extraordinarily annoying commercials won’t air again for another year.

Milke BerryPhoto byMike Berry

For a few months we won’t have to hear Joe Namath shilling for some insurance company. We won’t have to see and hear an old-lady actress saying she called to see if her doctor was still in her plan.

“Still in my network” is what she should have said. These Medicare Advantage policies put you in a network, and only pay providers that are in the network.

They don’t tell you that in the commercials, although they imply it when they tell you to “call and check your Zip code.” If you live within one of their networks, you’re OK; if not, you’re out of luck. (And you still have to listen to their annoying commercials, or at least you did until the Dec. 7 deadline passed.)

But while these seasonal irritants are gone for now, we still have the year-round assaults on our senses that flow out of our TVs.

Car insurance commercials, for example. Is anything stupider? If the insurance companies were being run by people that are half as dumb as the ones in the commercials, you’d be in serious trouble if you had a claim.

And the endless drug-company commercials.

These advertise medications that combat some medical condition you don’t have. They start out extolling the miraculous qualities of the medicine for 10 or 15 seconds, and spend the rest of the commercial telling you not to take the drug if you have any of a laundry list of ailments.

And since these are all prescription meds, you can’t just go to the pharmacy and buy them; you need a prescription from your doctor.

“Ask your doctor about. . .” the commercials all say. As far as I’m concerned, if you have to suggest a drug to your doctor, it’s time to get another doctor.

The political, Medicare, insurance and drug commercials must work, or the various companies and political committees wouldn’t be spending billions of dollars to run them.

And I wouldn’t spend so much time checking my phone between segments of my favorite programs.

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I am retired after 45 years in the newspaper business. I am a 1972 graduate of the College of Communications at the University of Illinois.

Kewanee, IL
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