Monday, November 17, 2014
Curse You, Health Insurance Bureaucracy!
I decided I wanted to drop my AARP Secure Horizons Advantage Plan and switch back to traditional Medicare plus a supplement. The only advantage to the first one is that there is no premium; the copays don't make up the difference. However, it's an HMO so you have to get a referral from your primary care physician to see other doctors. And that's a hassle and it's easy to forget to do it, and a constant source of annoyance to me at present.
I used to be in traditional Medicare, so now during the open enrollment period, I decided to switch back.
I just spent two hours on the phone.
First, I had to call a couple of my doctors and verify that they take traditional Medicare; I really had no doubt but I needed to be sure. So that took about 20 minutes because the oncologist's office didn't open on time and they had a new menu that didn't include an option for Stay on the line for a representative, so I had to call two or three times before I figured out which number I was supposed to punch.
Then I called the AARP Medicare Supplement phone number that I got off their website. They said they couldn't switch me to regular Medicare; I would have to call a Licensed Healthcare Representative at a different number. O-o-o-kay.
That person said I couldn't switch at that line and I needed to call Medicare and re-enroll in Medicare. When I got to that number, the automated thingy said that in order to do that I had to call Social Security. And Social Security is impossible -- after making me sit through this long lecture on the various benefits of SS, they said they were too busy to answer the phone right now and call back at a less busy time.
You understand, each one of these numbers tortured the listener with a long menu of options and "answer this question" and "answer that question ... " and "Hold for a representative," etc., etc.
So then I was thoroughly confused and tired and out of all options. So I called Secure Horizons, which has always given me trouble in the past, and lo and behold! I quickly got a human being who knew what he was talking about! His name was Ray!
Ray, wherever you are, you're a terrific person!
He said he would disenroll me from Secure Horizons and when that happens, you automatically revert to traditional Medicare, which is what I thought all along ought to happen -- but not according to all those other imbeciles. I stay in Secure Horizons through Dec. 31, and in a week or ten days I will get a disenrollment form in the mail to fill out, and I'll fill it out and send it back, and then I can sign up for a Medicare supplement plan, just like I used to have. There will be plenty of time to do it, and I think it can be done online. Let's hope so! I think the websites are less ignorant than the phone representatives. I know what plan I want, and I really understand traditional Medicare much better than I ever understood the Advantage Plans.
The only thing I didn't like about that last one was at one point, Ray had to go away and get some information, and during that time they played a piece of 18th century chamber music, maybe Hayden or Mozart. Now, I like 18th century chamber music, but this piece was very short and repeated endlessly, the same thing. After hearing something fifty times, the most artistic piece of music can drive you crazy!
The reason I changed in the first place was that my erstwhile PCP sent out this letter saying he was going to drop any patient who didn't transfer to an Advantage Plan. Even though that didn't seem right to me at the time, I didn't want to have to find a new PCP, so I switched. Now the same practice, which that doctor has now left, says, no, they take traditional Medicare. *#$*#@!
Oh, the joys and conveniences of our contemporary civilization!