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Author: lcd186 Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 19021  
Subject: Re: Medicare: $480 bill, choosing new plan Date: 11/5/2012 4:09 PM
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Sounds like you might have received a bill for a medigap policy or a Medicare Advantage plan. I too am on SSD at age 62 due to heart issues. I pay $99/month for Part A, then about $350/month for medigap (medigap is much higher for those on Medicare due to SSD), and about $40/month for Part D drug coverage. If I were you, I would call you state SHIIP office and ask what's going on. They probably will be able to explain the situation, fraud or whatever. Good luck.

ResNullius, I forgot to mention that I am calling from New York City. Even though there is a SHIIP (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) for the entire state, when we in NYC calls that number, we are routed automatically to local NYC, or 311. Unfortunately in the aftermath of Sandy, most all telephone calls to any city agency is swamped. I am going to wait until the end of the week, or next week (or beyond) to try getting through.

On the rest of your response, it all sounds reasonable except I don't know why I am getting this bill suddenly almost at the end of the plan year, essentially making this bill retroactive to the beginning of the year.

Also I've been paying (like you) $99.90/month via auto deduction out of my SSD check. I've not been billed $350/month yet for medigap. When I called moments ago, the awkward young customer service representative told me this was for "plan B" (emphasis on "B" and not "D"). It would have been more sensible to me if it was for "D."

Call them and ask. If you can't handle making that call, have someone make it for you.

Phil, I did. the phone number I have listed to Member Services is 1-866-395-5175. I called it a total of three times to be on the safe side. The very first two calls were greeted with this interesting robo greeting.

"Hello. Thank you for calling! Please listen carefully as the menu options may have changed. Congratulations! Just for calling in today, you’re going to the Bahamas on a complimentary two-night Bahamas cruise. Wow, this really is exciting! Your complimentary two-night cruise will include unlimited dining in the ship’s four spectacular restaurants, use of our luxurious on-board spa and health club, as well as access to one of the largest casinos on any cruise ship. Your only responsibility is nominal port fees of $59 per person payable to your credit card today. Congratulations again! I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous time on your Bahamas cruise. And it may be used any time in the next 18 months. I’ll connect you over to an agent that will give you all the exciting details. Press any touch tone now to hear all the details on the fabulous two-night Bahamas cruise. To be transferred to an agent who can advise you on how to schedule your travel dates, press any touch tone now."

At the first call, at the very end I hung up. I waited a few minutes again and it routed to that same greeting and I hung up by the first mention of "Congratulations!" I tried to call some other phone numbers I had or looked up, including state and city agencies that all seemed inundated at this point.

After about a half hour or more, I tried to call the same toll free number again, thinking perhaps I would get more of the same, or just see something else. I might strike some as being paranoid at this point, but I decided to go through the call. Oddly, this time it went through a legitimate sounding voice mail system. After several buttons were pushed and several more minutes on hold, a young awkward woman answered and attempted to help me. She took down my name and some of my information, including my phone number. After speaking with her for a few minutes and being put on hold a couple of times, I hung up on one point. She called back, twice. When questioned on the specifics of the bill (which is apparently supposedly to pay for the Plan B portion, but she understood little else of Medicare it seemed), she had to keep checking with someone else for an explanation. No doubt I regret 'confirming' my telephone number at the initial part of our call.

It could be too many near-misses with odd pieces of mail and phone calls in which at least three were confirmed scams or masquerading as legitimate Medicare of Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, or attempts to erroneously bill Medicare for services I never requested or received, I wonder if this is the one of the more sophisticated scams which pose as officious sounding invoices. I still remember from the 1980s all the "yellow pages" directory listings or related that some small business people I knew who were being charged for advertising that they did not understand and had no relevance to. I just feel very uncertain about whether this is a justifiable bill whatsoever. I would have thought it was more credible if I had gotten at the beginning of the year, not the end. It doesn't encourage me when I hear generally about FBI fraud bureaus on the constant vigilance for Medicare scams.

And yes, I initiated the call, but I didn't trust it, yet still went through with it. I'll note that the number was on this invoice. Could it be a clever scam? Or am I overworked over nothing, beyond agitation at getting an unexpected and large bill? I have a hard time trusting any phone calls anymore, as well as paperwork.

I will have to wait until I called an appropriate NYS/NYC Medicare office, but I may also call one of the various numbers for SSA on this.

Lois Carmen D.
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