Cash: don’t carry; you need your phone

rejected

moneyMy oldest college friend complained on Facebook. “It is almost impossible to use cash in the airport. You’re SUPPOSED to use a QR code to download a Health/Travelers form because there’s No Paper, but you need to sign up for an ACCOUNT to do it!!”

Yes, that was worth at least two exclamation points!!

There are a number of places where cash is no longer king. Getting food on an Amtrak train, for instance. A lot of retailers at markets seem greenback-averse. My running joke at a store register is “Do you still take cash?” Apparently, you CAN accept cash and checks with the service Square. Are businesses required by law to accept cash? It depends on where they are

What countries are going cashless? China’s society is, its central bank is pushing backSweden and Zimbabwe, for two, are also getting resistance.

Also, increasingly, I NEED to have a cellphone. When I’m making a medical appointment, I get notices on my phone. When I get there, some places require that I check in via the device. And the photo of my vaccine card is stored therein.

Not covered

Speaking of medical things, I had gone to my doctor in September to get two shots during my annual physical. In October, I received a bill for $125 for services not covered. My physician’s office seemed to think it was because I had received both the flu shot AND the tetanus shot at the same time. But that wasn’t it.

Medicare had rejected the tetanus shot, the representative told me. Now, they would have covered it if I had been bitten by an animal or stepped on a rusty nail, or had another medical necessity. But since I was ONLY getting it because physicians believe I should get one once a decade, Medicare didn’t cover it. And since Medicare rejected it, my Medicare supplement carrier ALSO rejected it.

I’ll have to remember to step on a rusty nail in the fall of 2031.

Snail mail: college, Medicare

PAEA

snail mailOn Monday, October 18, our household received 23 pieces of snail mail. Good golly!  Usually, it’s about eight. When I opened the mailbox, items cascaded out.

Seven were for my daughter, almost all of them from colleges that wrote that they want her to apply to their college or university. Five were for my wife, catalogs and bills mostly. Two were jointly for my wife and me from organizations we belong to.

Almost all of the nine for me were from insurance companies. The period from October 15 to December 7 constitutes when I can change coverage for my Medicare supplement, including prescription coverage, dental, and eye care.

My Rx coverage is scheduled to go up about 74%, so I would like to find a company that will cost the same or less while providing similar coverage. There IS a process for this, but it involves entering the names of all of my physicians and pharmaceuticals. Tedious but necessary.

One of the pieces of mail is from an organization that I ostensibly agree with philosophically. But I don’t give them money because they mail the solicitation to Roger C. Green. Actually, I get quite a few of them each month, and I haven’t given any of them a dime. Get my name from some mailing list company, then you hope the information is correct.

He brings me no joy

Of course, thinking about the mail makes me think of the dreadful and corrupt Louis DeJoy. I’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t understand why Biden hasn’t just fired him as Postmaster General. It’s not that simple.

“DeJoy still runs the Postal Service because he maintains the backing of its board of governors. This bipartisan, nine-member body oversees the service’s expenditures and operations and appoints postmasters general — and decides how long their tenures last. Six of the governors, including the board’s chairman, Ron Bloom, are Trump appointees; Biden has appointed three.

“Unless Biden wants to try removing governors for cause, he can replace them only when their seven-year terms end or they step aside prematurely. Those rules are meant to protect the Postal Service from partisan meddling and generally make it hard for presidents to reshape it without waging political battles.

The plan

DeJoy’s announcement is to make the service slower and more costly in the near term.

There is a positive aspect of the plan, though. “The Postal Service is requesting that Congress pass legislation that enables us to fully integrate Postal Service retiree health plans with Medicare and eliminate the retiree health benefit pre-funding obligations imposed by the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006.” The PAEA HAS been an onerous burden on the USPS and reflects much of the losses for the entity in the past 15 years. This should be passed by Congress.

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