Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

Medicare Bills: OMG!

Anybody who thinks Medicare is some sort of a bargain and that all us old folks are sucking off the public teat either doesn’t know what he’s talking about or is just batshit crazy.

Just paid my annual Medigap premium: it rose by $277! That was after the Part D, which covers nothing because I don’t take any meds, went up by $60 a year. Part D is provided by a private insurer, but Medicare recipients are required to subscribe to it on pain of a penalty that amounts to a heavy, recurring fine. Part B also rose this year, but Social Security rises to cover Part B increases even in years when there’s no COLA increase (we’re now in the second year with no Social Security COLA, because after all there’s no inflation. :roll:).

Not anticipating such a large jack-up, I failed to self-escrow enough to cover the increase, so I had to raid my regular savings to pay the bill. Another two months with no clothes! Guess I’ll be wearing black Costco jeans all summer. Damn!

Medicare now costs some 15 times what I was paying for similar coverage at the Great Desert University. And of course it doesn’t cover everything. The Mayo keeps sending me incomprehensible bills, and the various Medicare providers keep sending me incomprehensible statements. Piles of paper are swelling my file folders, and I have no idea what any of it means…it’s just impossible to parse it out.

What this means is that I have no idea what I need to pay my doctors out of pocket. And that means I can’t really ever get out of debt to them, because I don’t know what to pay. Even if I could afford to do so, I can’t pay the full amount of each statement and then pocket the amounts coming in from Medicare/Medigap, because the clinic’s bills don’t reflect all the pending charges; if I spend the Medicare checks on groceries, I won’t have anything to cover the new little surprises that keep coming in the mail.

Complicating matters, Medicare will not pay the Mayo directly, advertisements to the contrary notwithstanding. The Part B coverage is supposed to direct-deposit payments to the Mayo, but for some reason because it’s the Mayo they won’t do that. Hell, no! Instead, they dribble out checks to me by snail-mail, which I have to deposit and then disburse to the Mayo myself.

Needless to say, the potential for snafu is huge. There’s always the chance that some check will be lost in the mail or in the piles of paper in my house—because a blizzard of trash paper is always coming in from these insurance companies, it’s easy to lose an envelope with an actual check in it.

Mercifully, I can now scan checks and deposit them electronically. It’s almost as much of a nuisance as physically driving to the credit union, because my scanner is excruciatingly slow. And of course, it draws so much memory or power or whatever it’s doing, I can’t do anything else on my computer while I’m waiting for it to plod through the process. The CU’s system won’t accept color scans, but my scanner defaults to color. Sometimes even when I set it to scan greyscale, it defaults right back to color. So then I have to do the whole scan over again. One time it took over half an hour just to scan in one check so the system would take it—I could have traipsed to the credit union on the way home from campus in that time!

Dealing with this bureaucratic BS is a difficult nuisance now, while I have most of my marbles. I can’t even begin to imagine how the elderly frail cope with this tsunami of confusing, complicated, demanding crapola. If you don’t have someone in your life to help out with it, you’re SOL. And you can be sure you’re getting ripped off seven ways from Sunday.

There’s just no excuse for America’s healthcare system.

Author: funny

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7 Comments

  1. Having been with Kaiser for 39 years , I don’t think I’ll switch when my husband retires. It is nice not to have to deal with the paperwork or those unexpected charges. My sister had a colonoscopy. She kept making sure that everone was in her plan. But she didn’t know the anesthesiologist wasn’t in the plan. She got a bill for $800.00.
    I know what you mean about incomprehensible bills because the ones for the dentist seem to show to me that I owe a lot. And yet when the dentist sends me a statement, it is always for less which is better than more. But why can’t it be clearer.

  2. From my parents, I know that medicare is complex and expensive. I hope–vainly, I’m sure–that it will be less so when I retire. My health insurance is very expensive, so I won’t face such a huge increase when I retire (is that good or bad??)

  3. We’ve been dealing with Medicare for over 10 years. It DOES get easier. We make a smallish co-pay when we see a doctor and our secondary insurance handles everything else. We never see an actual bill, just a print out of what Medicare and the secondary insurance have paid. But remember, because you take no medications today, doesn’t mean you won’t need them tomorrow. Without Part D the couple of name brand meds we take would destroy our budget very quickly.

  4. The government (Congress) makes it so complicated signing up for medicare.
    I’ve got a couple years to learn about it but by then Obamacare will take over and medicare will be gone. I did get accepted by the VA for Part 5, no co-pay and I’ll be checking in with them soon.

  5. The scary thing is when you do start understanding the EOBs and other communication from Medicare & the insurance companies. I worked for one of the 3 parties related to Medicare (one of the organizations that provides the beneficiary helplines & handles appeals) & I know they have to include a lot of verbiage to cover themselves legally, so I can usually tease out the gist. But it’s similar to all the credit card info that’s there to supposedly inform us but only confuses & buries what’s important to the consumer (in this case, just tell me how much I owe my doctor).

    Doctors, dentists, pharmacies & the like have gotten better about tracking what you owe, but you still have to be informed because they do get things wrong sometimes.

  6. Wow, this is another world. My youngest child broke her arm here in the UK around the time the US media were saying what a terrible thing state-run healthcare is.

    We dialled emergency, got picked up from the park by ambulance, taken to the hospital that is nearest our home (not the nearest to the park), she was given pain relief, X-ray, waited (admittedly a while, it was a busy weekend) to see the doctor, waited a bit more until the surgeon came in (child was happily watching Disney on DVD during the wait!), operated on by senior surgeon who put some fancy wires in her elbow. She stayed overnight, i got a folding bed in her cubicle, sent off home the next morning with a big plaster and a bunch of painrelief medication. Several return visits for change of plastercast, repeat operation under GA for removal of wires, and several months of weekly physio to regain full movement in her arm. Repeat performance 6 months later when she broke the other arm (and yes, she is accident-prone, I’m not that much of a terrible parent).

    No bills involved at any stage (we are UK tax-payers). Listening to the furore in the US media, I was really struggling to see what part of all that one could possibly object to. The stories on US-boards about the hoops people have to jump through to manage and pay for their healthcare makes me realise that we really do live on another planet.

    • If you go to an ER here, you will wait for many hours. My neighbor fell while chasing her roommate’s runaway wheelchair down an inclined floor at a movie theater. She broke three ribs. She had to drive herself and her disabled friend, who has to be helped out of the wheelchair into the car and vice versa, to the hospital, where they waited over six hours to be seen.

      And here in the US, if you had to foot the bill for even one of the surgeries you describe (which you certainly would, if you were uninsured), you could very easily be bankrupted. At best, it would cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Two surgeries like that could easily rack up well over $100,000 in bills.

      But by gawd! We will not have no steenking SOOOOOCIALISM in these Yoonited States!