Dealing with health insurance companies

the patient gets impatient

health insurance cardI know you’ve been asking, “Roger, what have you been doing since you’ve retired?” Besides doing some arts stuff and going to Indiana, of course.

Mostly dealing with health insurance companies, and one in particular. When I was working, my family and I had insurance under my name. I received a letter dated June 25 from The Insurance Company (TIC) that my coverage would terminate as of July 1, which I knew to be correct. And finally, on July 1, I received separate cards for my wife and my daughter, who are still covered.

But about July 10, I got a letter from TIC insurance broker saying that the three of us were covered under my old number. I spent 30 minutes on the phone with TIC telling them that was incorrect. They blamed my former employer for the snafu. The benefits person at my old job said it was TIC’s fault. Still, ten days later, I get a letter stating my coverage was canceled. Good.

A week and a half after that, I get a letter from TIC welcoming me – and only me – to their service. This time I just called the work benefits person, who, by that time, feigned that she wasn’t bored hearing from me AGAIN. And two weeks later, I got my third TIC cancellation letter.

In late August, the office of my allergist, who I’d seen earlier in the month, called to say that Medicare, who they correctly billed, believes I’m still covered by TIC! I am to call the Medicare Coordination of Benefits people to straighten this out.

Of course, the Medicare COB phone number was not working. I called the main Medicare number and waited ONLY ten minutes. I explained my tale of woe. They removed my TIC coverage from their health insurance records. My allergist’s office knows to resubmit the claim in another two weeks.

None of this is especially difficult. But I get impatient doing thrice things I thought I needed to do only once.

Retiring is an exhausting process

chores involving Social Security, Medicare…

Retirement planI was surprised to discover that retiring, which I have been looking forward to, is an exhausting process. Maybe I thought it’d be better because my employer has engaged a company to make it “easier.”

The company, which I will call Noah, had a representative contact me a week before our scheduled phone meeting. He said, “Hey, do you want to put your medical providers in the database? It’ll help you decide what coverage to get after you retire.”

“Sure.” I’m always willing to let other people do tedious work for me. Later, I put in my medications in the system. Then a couple weeks after that, I got an email from Noah, requesting that I put the list of medical providers in the database.

I go to into the system, and sure enough, the provider list is no longer there. Stuff happens, no big deal. I try to re-enter the list of doctors. No luck.

I call Noah, and that rep can’t enter the information either. This guy tells me he’ll have someone call me when it’s fixed, probably later that day. A week and a half later, I finally get the message. I STILL need to enter that info.

Oh, and I have chores involving Social Security, Medicare, my current insurance company, my credit union (for automatic deposit), and a bunch of other things. If I were RETIRED, I’d have time for all this.

Another rant, related only in that I wanted a working DVD player for retirement. I ordered one online in March. We put in a disc, which plays great. But it doesn’t eject, yet the screen says the slot is empty. After too much of a back-and-forth, I’m STILL waiting for a box to ship it back to get repaired.

All of this is an exhausting process. What will I do when I finally DO retire? All the things I’ve postponed the past month to do “later.”

Y is for not so young: Medicare

I’ve been wearing long-sleeved shirts, even in the summer, for the past 15 years.

In the year before I turned 65, I realized that I had to apply for Medicare. If I had not known this, the wealth of solicitations, including multiples from the same few companies, that I received made it abundantly clear.

Technically, I had to apply within the 7-month Initial Enrollment Period, which:
Begins 3 months before the month you turn 65
Includes the month you turn 65
Ends 3 months after the month you turn 65

I waited until May and applied online. In short order, I received my Medicare card dated March 1. “Most people should enroll in Part A when they turn 65, even if they have health insurance from an employer. This is because most people paid Medicare taxes while they worked so they don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A.” Part A covers inpatient hospital stays, care in a skilled nursing facility, hospice care, and some home health care.

“Certain people may choose to delay Part B. In most cases, it depends on the type of health coverage you may have.” Some coverage might cover for Pulse Vascular (for vascular specialist in New Jersey). Since I’m still working at a job with decent health benefits, I am presuming I can postpone signing on to that section, which covers certain doctors’ services, outpatient care, medical supplies, and preventive services.

I HOPE that’s correct because “you may have to pay a Part B late enrollment penalty, and you may have a gap in coverage if you decide you want Part B later.” And the penalty is 10% per year.

I know a friend of mine who signed to Part B when she did not have to. And once you’ve signed on, you can’t UNsign.

In anticipation of this, I’ve been going to every doctor I’ve thought I should have seen years ago. My podiatrist has provided me with a pair of shoe inserts that compensate for my pigeon-toedness that I’ve experienced at least since I was in 7th grade.

My dermatologist checked my skin for irregularities and discovered actinic keratosis, a pre-cancerous condition, on the tip of my ear, which she sprayed with liquid nitrogen. So I’m redoubling my effort to use sunscreen ALL of the time, SPF 70 or better; and wearing a floppy hat, not just a cap that covers my pate. This is why I’ve been wearing long-sleeved shirts, even in the summer, for the past 15 years.

For ABC Wednesday