A time Medicare fix… worth millions of $$$

Speaking of voting… between now and December 15 all 59.9 million Americans on Medicare have the right to ‘vote’ for — to choose — a different form of that health care program. One of the least-considered factors when a different Medicare plan — either the original version, or a Medicare Advantage plan, or a Medicare Supplement one — is looked at has to do with how much that plan is likely to change at the end of your first year in it.

There are periodic, usually annual, small changes in premiums, co-pays and deductibles for original Medicare. Medicare Advantage and Supplement plans, on the other hand, may change mightily.

The Advantage plan I currently have some weeks ago sent out its ‘Annual Notice of Changes 2021’. It comprises 35 printed and five ‘intentionally blank’ pages. Thirty-five pages of changes, in a single year!

There are many reasons why health care costs are out of control in this country. I posit that posting 35 pages of changes to a single program is one of them. Someone — some whole bunch of people — had to staff all those changes — making sure, among other things, all the legal ‘I’s are dotted and ‘t’s crossed. In aggregate, that undoubtedly cost many millions of US dollars.

Were all those changes necessary? Who were they intended to benefit? Patients? The company? The latter’s billing system?

That’s a whole nother bone of contention with me: Billing and payment arrangements.

The ‘explanation of benefits — this is not a bill’ I received this week shows one charge, for a brief, barely-emergency visit to the ED (Emergency Department). The ‘explanation’ says, without explaining what the charge was for, that the ED charged my insurance carrier $5,688. The ‘Provider Discount’ whatever that is, was $5,688. The Amount Paid was $0.00. Yet up top it is noted that a check (number 00084877) was issued on 11/2/20.

Does any of that make any sense? I, for one, think not. From my perspective, all that happened was that a lot of paper — including the pointless and the equally inane sheet noting that I could have this information in a broad range of languages if I so choose — was wasted.

Correcting this situation — this massive waste of natural resources — hasn’t been identified as a high priority on the Biden agenda, and it probably should not be. But it should be considered as an objective for the relatively near future. I hope it proves to be so.


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Doug Harris

Doug Harris


50+ years a writer, 80+ unique bylines. Two blogs have reached 60+ countries.