Lately, I have received dozens of Medicare questions from individuals throughout the country who graduated from high school in 1965. What do they all have in common? All are over 65. While most still work and have health coverage through an employer or as a dependent spouse, some enroll in traditional Medicare Part A & Part B. Medicare may be primary or act as the secondary payer for covered services after a group health plan pays its portion. Recently, a news story reported that a person was hospitalized while traveling outside his home state. After recovering, the individual returned home to over $23,000 in medical bills. A call to the individual’s health plan was futile. Soon, “past due” notices arrived, and bill collectors were threatening seizure of assets and court action. It seems that in the hospital, the sick person could not provide a health plan card. A well-meaning friend gave the hospital a health membership card from the ill person’s wallet. Unfortunately, it was an expired card from a former employer. The hospital’s claim based on that incorrect information was rejected. Once the correct health plan card was provided along with information that showed Medicare was the secondary payer, benefits were coordinated and the final bill was correctly reduced from $23,000 to less than $70. Lesson learned: Whether you are traveling or just being at home, make sure your loved ones, close friends and care partners know how to reach the person you have designated to provide all of your current insurance claim membership cards.


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 — A radio program with Martha Khlopin
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