24 October 2018

The "Ease" of Switching to Medicare

That it's a government-run program under the regime of the Perpetually Lying/ Ignorant/Nationalist/Fake Self-made Billionaire/Hate-Monger/Racist/Misogynist/ Xenophobe/Fake Christian/Born-between-third-base-and-home-plate-and-thinks-he-hit-a-homer President Bone Spurs, should have warned me it was going to be a cluster-fuck... and I guess in some ways it did.

Since my birthday is in November and this is the year I complete my 65th lap around the sun, I theoretically get to partake in Medicare starting 01 November. Like a good German, I called Medicare three months prior to sign up. They told me that since I am already collecting the money I paid over 45 years of working back from Social Security that I would be automatically enrolled in Medicare. They also told me that they would send my Medicare card—necessary to show all providers if you want coverage—months before that 01 November beginning date and that it would be sent to me here at my home in Vietnam, since that's the address Social Security has for me.

They lied.

Go figure...

I am going to the US next week for a couple weeks of facilitation the first two weeks of November. As soon as I knew about the work, I called and made a few doctors' appointments. Since I'm unsure how much I'll have to pay out-of-pocket under Medicare, I did what I could to schedule everything for the week of 29 October. As of now, there is only one scheduled after my Medicare benefits kick in, though that may change.

I called Medicare last week to ask why I'd not yet received my card. Their computers were down, so the woman who answered my call told me to call back.

I just got off the phone with Medicare. They told me:

1) My card has NOT YET BEEN MAILED (so much for "months before").
2) They can NOT give me my Medicare number over the phone.
3) I need my Medicare number to get a provider to talk with or look at me.
4) They can only mail a card to the address (Vietnam) Social Security has for me.
5) If I go to the Social Security office after I arrive in the US, they can probably give me a letter verifying my Medicare coverage.

    a) On a good day, a visit to the Olympia Social Security office will burn only 3 hours.
    b) They can PROBABLY give me the letter, so I might waste 3 hours for nothing.


I took a chance and called Social Security with the hope that MAYBE someone there could give me my Medicare number over the phone.

*The phones open for business at 7 a.m. in each time zone.
*I called FROM VIETNAM at 6:50 a.m PST, hoping they wouldn't put me in the Pacific Time Zone.
*They did.
*I called back at 7:02 a.m. PST and was told that all agents are busy and if I give them a call-back number, I don't have to wait on hold.
*I gave them my US number and was told I'd get a call back in ONE HOUR AND 15 MINUTES!!!
*Only 2 minutes after the phone lines open and they're already backed up 38x that long??? How does that happen?

My penultimate question to the Medicare person was... "Why did they not yet send my Medicare card?"

The answer was that they have to mail out new cards to EVERYONE because they are no longer using Social Security numbers as Medicare numbers.

My last question was, "Why didn't they put new Medicare customers at the front of the queue because we don't have an old card to use?"

The answer was, "I don't know."

I'm thinking no one who's still there under Der Fuehrer is bright enough to figure out a way to do that.

Or maybe they saw my Twitter account?

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