Medicare By the Numbers

Medicare 2Retirement is supposedly 'our golden years' when all you have to do is sit back and finally enjoy all that life has to offer after working most of your adult life.  The truth is that our life as a senior is much more complicated than it should be starting with Medicare.  

The Chicago Tribune’s May 29 story “Steps to take when disputing a denied health insurance claim” tells the story of Larry Tocco and his attempt to enroll in Medicare. Larry retired last year from a job in the collections department of a credit union. After some medical treatment, he started receiving past-due notices from health care providers after his claims on a Medicare plan weren't paid. After several frustrating phone calls, Larry learned he was still on the active employee roll of the health insurance plan covering his former employer. As a result, his Medicare plan was considered secondary coverage. A benefits manager from the credit union told him they sent the retirement paperwork, but the representatives with the Medicare provider said they didn't get it.

Although Larry’s bills were less than $400, he worried about what could happen if he suddenly had a major health issue before the fiasco was resolved and couldn't advocate for himself. Given that Larry worked in collections, he understood keenly that if the past-due bills ended up going to a collection agency, his personal credit rating could be damaged. Larry kept careful notes of conversations with the insurance company, his former employer, and his current Medicare provider. That's hugely important for getting to a faster resolution on customer service and billing issues, the article explained.

When these companies won't talk to each other, you can get stuck. Just the same, patients are better off in the complaint process if they have documentation, the article advises. Keep a calendar diary anytime a benefits, health insurance, or contractor dispute comes up: write down the name, title, and phone number of the person you speak with and the contents of the conversation. Experts say that there are all kinds of glitches that can lead people to not being properly enrolled in Medicare.

The issue has been straightened out, and Tocco has finally been removed from coverage. "I never thought this was how I'd be spending my time" in retirement, Tocco said.

You can learn more about this topic as well as other strategies on our website under the tab entitled: elder law planning in Virginia. Be sure you also sign up for our complimentary e-newsletter so that you may be informed of all the latest issues that could affect you, your loved ones and your estate planning.  However, proper estate planning is not a do-it-yourself project.  Why not call us for a consultation at 757-259-0707.

Reference: Chicago Tribune (May 29, 2015) “Steps to take when disputing a denied health insurance claim”

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