Social Security Error Jeopardizes Medicare Coverage for 250,000 Seniors
Social Security Error Jeopardizes Medicare Coverage for 250,000 Seniors, and being aware of this blooper is important.
You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “if you’re not mad, then you’re not paying attention”? This week Medicare beneficiaries received another reminder to pay attention to the world around them.
For the last 5 months, Social Security made an honest mistake that could’ve impacted over 250,000 Medicare beneficiaries; causing a gap in their medical and prescription drug coverage.
The exact numbers aren’t clear as SSI refuses to provide much information. The statement by Social Security gave little explanation.
Their attempt at producing a “frequently asked questions” section provided no actual questions or answers.
None of us are perfect and quite frankly, no one wants to admit a mistake of this magnitude. Thankfully, the short and skinny is that beneficiaries don’t have to be without coverage.
Basically, you can’t refuse to catch up on premiums payments and expect to start coverage fresh in July. To have continuous coverage, you’ll need to make good on the amount you owe the insurance company if your coverage has been impacted.
Social Security Error Jeopardizes Medicare Coverage for Seniors
Due to what is being dubbed a “processing error”, Social Security did not deduct the premium amount from benefit checks nor send that payment to the insurance company. Some people may not have noticed the difference in their monthly check since this occurred during a time when most people expected to see a cost of living increase.
Therefore, hundreds of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries may experience what they think is a scam, a notice in the mail advising their premium hasn’t been paid in nearly 6 months. Most of us would throw that letter in the trash, thinking it’s the latest con against baby boomers.
Making Premiums Payments for Parts C and D
The stand-alone prescription drug plan is Part D. It’s easy to remember, “D” for drugs; the plan that only provides coverage for prescription drugs.
When enrolling in a prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan, beneficiaries have the fortune of deciding how premiums will be paid to the insurance company.
The most common payment election is to have the insurance company paid before receiving benefits from Social Security. That means SSI pays the insurance company before they send you a monthly benefit check.
Another payment option for beneficiaries is to pay premiums directly to the insurance company. Payments can be made by monthly check, automatic draft through your bank or by having a credit card on file with the insurance company.
Above all, almost every Medicare beneficiary has either a prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan. Essentially, no one is exempt and any one of us could feel the impact of this glitch.
If you have been relying on Social Security to make payments on your behalf to your Part C or Part D coverage provider, make sure the insurance company is in receipt of all premium payments this calendar year.
Hold Tight, That’s Not Trash
You will need to take action to ensure that you don’t have a lapse in your coverage. Whether you have a Medicare Advantage plan or a prescription drug plan, this error requires action on everyone’s part.
Customers should expect to receive an invoice through the mail advising of past due premium amounts. These amounts due will have to be paid by the beneficiary.
If you haven’t received anything from your insurance company, call them to find out if your individual plan has been impacted. The insurance company must give you at least 2 months to catch up premiums due.
If you can’t pay several months premium at once, you can contact your provider who will make a payment arrangement that fits within your budget. The insurance company cannot cancel your plan if you are abiding by the agreed-upon payment arrangements.
Getting Back to Normal After Social Security Jeopardizes Medicare Coverage
Social Security and Medicare have expressed that premium payments to private insurers are expected to resume before the end of summer, as noted in a statement released by Medicare. If you receive a letter from your insurance carrier regarding premium due for your Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan, contact your insurance company to make payment arrangements that will bring your premiums up to date.
After a situation of this degree, things never go back to normal. We learn we grow, and we adapt.
Taking the Next Steps
Since Social Security had an error that jeopardizes Medicare coverage, you need to decide if you’re going to continue to have Social Security withhold the premium for your prescription drug or Medicare Advantage plan. Remember, you can pay that premium directly to the insurer.
Use your discretion to determine which option best suits you and your needs.
Although, some people choose to have their premium automatically billed to a credit card on file with the insurance company. This method allows the insurer to bill your credit card each month.
The insurance is billed and paid automatically. The advantage being, the beneficiary only has to pay the monthly credit card statement. As well as knowing the points awarded from that credit card will help fund their next vacation adventure. (If you don’t have a credit card that helps you earn vacation points, seriously consider applying for one.)
Alternatively, you can write and mail a check each month or you can set up electronic funds transfer through your bank. If you choose to write a check and send it through the mail. You’ll have to watch for the monthly invoice, then write the check and mail back to the insurer.
Using electronic funds transfer is like having a credit card on file with the insurance company. You agree in writing for the insurance company to bill your checking account each month and you give the bank permission to pay that bill automatically.
Clearly, automatic payments are the most convenient method of paying for your additional insurance coverages. Automatic payments require less human intervention and allow baby boomers to focus on the beauty of their golden years.