I have had a love/hate relationship with Medicare since 1978 when I took a job working for a Home Oxygen Company in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. I did the billing for patients who needed oxygen due to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease-COPD or other related breathing issues. With most of our patients being 65 or older, the bulk of the billing was to Medicare.
To say it was a constant battle to get payment on behalf of our patients is putting it lightly. They were constantly deferring payment for review, which meant by the time we got a physical letter denying payment and then sent in a paper Request for Review; another 6-8 weeks would have passed. And they might pay for the equipment but not the tubing required to go from the equipment to the face mask or nasal cannula which was the delivery system for oxygen. Really? Yet, while we would have to write it off, we would also need to continue to bill for it otherwise the following year, Medicare would say since we did not bill for it we did not need it. What kind of thinking was that? But what do I know, I never finished college. Of course that was in 1978 so hopefully with electronic submissions things are going a little bit smoother.
With my family history and lack of longevity in the family, I also wondered if I would live long enough to be eligible for Medicare. If I did manage to outlive my ancestors timeline I had my doubts as to whether Medicare would even be around by the time I reached 65.
But low and behold, here I am.
And it’s amazing how life experience can change how you feel about something. More like wear you down.
When Thad retired I stayed on his company coverage through Cobra and it was wonderful coverage with medical, dental and vision. But alas, it ran its course and for the last three years I have paid $1,700.00 a month for just medical insurance that sported a $4,000.00 deductible. So for these last three years I never met the deductible; basically paying out of pocket for health care. I have mixed emotions because if I had had some health issues I might have been covered yet I am relieved that I have not needed anything but routine checkups with small hiccups along the way. So in other words, I would have had to be some kind of sick to have saved some money.
I’ve never been so ready to be 65!
I turn 65 March 5th, so in November I began the process of applying for Medicare. The cost savings alone had me dreaming of what we could do with that extra money. Was it time to turn in my 12 year old Passat? Do we take that American Steamboat Cruise we’ve been talking about? I was salivating in anticipation of seeing a raise in our monthly income.
So I called and the first available appointment was 12/23/2019 by phone. Awesome. On that date I had a lovely conversation and then was told I would still need to come into a local office. O-O-kay. The day after Christmas I went into the Lake Mary Office. Smooth as silk. She told me it would be a couple of weeks or maybe 4 as it was, after all, the holidays. No worries, I had till March 1, right? Meanwhile I would research supplemental insurances and a prescription plan. Of course all that would hinge on getting qualified for Medicare. Qualified? I’m a US citizen, I have put into Social Security all my life and hey, I’m still alive. How much more qualified do I need to be? And how long does it take to confirm my eligibility? Apparently a while.
I watched the process unfold on their website where initially they had my maiden name and address where I lived in 1969-1974 before I became Mrs. Loretta Schoen. But it did say I was “processing”. A few weeks later, it changed to my current information. “Phew!” But no benefit amount had been added- still processing. In the middle of February I got my approval letter with an actual Medicare number and could then apply and secure additional coverage. The supplemental and the prescription plan were secured in one day and I received my cards within 2 weeks of signing up. My Medicare card arrived on February 26 – cutting it a little close for my comfort. And we want to grow our government?
So what is my take away?
- The representatives are informative, kind and courteous but the Medicare process is still a hassle.
- Figuring out your Social Security and when and how you should take it is difficult even though their representatives are most helpful. I am still not sure if I made the best decision. Time will tell.
- The agency is inundated even putting a disclaimer that because they serve so many; delays should be expected.
- You can expect a phone wait time of 1-2 hours on some days.
- Their messaging routing system needs work as it doesn’t always listen to your answers to their prompts and puts you into the wait time rather than the call back system.
- We are blessed to live in a time that has this program available especially for those of us drowning in cost of medical insurance.
- I am grateful to be blessed by God to be alive long enough to utilize this coverage.
- It is definitely a cost savings, if not comprehensive enough.
I can’t wait to use my Medicare card. It’s almost worth getting old.
Thank you for reading my post. If you have found it encouraging please consider liking, commenting or sharing it. Feel free to comment here or even re-blog – may these words take flight!
I have additional insights I’d love to share with you found in the pages of my debut book: Surviving Medical Mayhem – Laughing When It Hurts. To order a copy or learn more go to my website at www.lorettaschoen.com
Blessings for Health & Wellness.