Dear Dr. R.V. Shrink:
I follow your column each week and find it informative and thought provoking. However, I cannot always figure out the things you suggest. In the past few weeks my interest was piqued with the suggestion of a Medigap Plan F High Deductible plan, and last week the mining claim idea. I had never heard of either. In researching both I find little information. Do they really exist or do you just make this stuff up? --Mrs. Doubtfire in Deadwood
Both these ideas are way too bizarre for even me to make up. Let’s begin with the fact that signing up for Medicare is not for sissies. I stated in that column that insurance companies function profitably by keeping customers and potential customers confused. There is little money in Plan F HD. Many companies do not really sell it, they just use it as bait to get you to bite. Once they have you on the hook (get you to call) they send you to a high-pressure salesperson, stuffed into a cubical, to sell you something you do not want or need. To make things even more complicated, rates and coverage vary by state and even counties.
My suggestion would be to call your state Medicare office and ask them to give you a list of companies that actually say they sell Plan F High Deductible. Your troubles do not stop there. It will be the last thing they try to sell you and the premium will change faster than their lips move. It must be good if they don’t want to sell it to you, so stay at it, be persistent. Hang in there like a bulldog.
After you get all insured, head for the gold fields so you can pay for your new medical coverage. I am no expert on mining claims. I have met a couple people who have done this and they seem to be happy campers. One bought his claim on eBay. If you check eBay you will see sellers with mining claims up for bid. This looks like the expensive way to stake a claim. Doing your own paperwork and finding your own claim would be much cheaper ($200+). Check with a BLM office near you.
From my understanding you need to work the claim, which might mean using a metal detector occasionally. I have also read that it does not give you the right to a private chunk of land. You only own the mining surface rights. Anyone can come out and camp next to you, they just can’t look for your Mother Lode without your permission. Really, that’s not so bad. You might get lonely out there looking for nuggets and want a bit of company.
Remember, if you find gold, don’t tell anyone. If you don’t find gold and want to sell your claim, get a gold tooth and smile broadly at each prospective buyer.
This may be a way of finding a cheap place to camp in the desert for the winter, but I think staying on BLM land would be a lot easier, with no paperwork. Remember, the guy that made the most money during the Gold Rush was named Levi, and he sold pants.
--Keep Smilin’, Dr. R.V. Shrink