THE JOY OF MEDICARE – Marilyn Armstrong

I belong to Blue Cross Blue Shield Advantage Value Added PPO group, which is a Medicare plan that offers extras but costs just a tiny bit more than basic Medicare.

Last night, in a moment of mindless stupidity, I decided to register for my medical plan. Usually, I just call them, but it was after hours and I just wanted to look up the price of a  medication. Which I could do online. If I registered.

This is the cutest little Tufted Titmouse I think I’ve ever seen.

No big deal, right? Fill in the form and voila, registered. Medicare was even easier. You could just call them and do it all by phone. I think it took me all of 10 minutes to register for Medicare in the five years I had straight Medicare before I switched to the BCBS Value Advantage plan.

I entered most of the registration information at which point I was told that I had “timed out” and would have to do it again. So I tried to do it again BUT it would not let me because it already had my ID and password — basically everything except my Medicare number.

The gallant Tufted Titmouse – He’s blue and yellow!

I have a week coming up of major medical exams — heart and head and back and more about my eyes.

I was going to die as a result of software glitches. I could cope with being eaten by an alligator or a Gila monster … but SOFTWARE? Seriously?

I tried to call them to fix it but got the “closed for the weekend” message. Starting October 1, they are open 24/7, but this isn’t October. Close, but no cookie. I ultimately discovered that the databank is closed all weekend because they are setting up for the incoming members for 2020, but I didn’t know that until later.

Finally, I finally managed to connect with someone who informed me that my membership had expired.

What?

Expired?

I pay my Medicare/BCBS advantage plan straight out of Social Security. When I was told I belonged to Aetna, not BCBS, I gurgled. I’ve never worked with Aetna AND. I had the BCBS card in my hand. It was blue, blue, and blue. A Blue Cross. A Blue Shield. A blue card. All the ink was blue. \

I had the wrong department and the person I was talking to didn’t have any idea what was going on. I’m not even sure she knew was software is. The right department was closed until Monday and I have a doctor’s appointment early in the day.

By now, after 2 am. I was tired. I knew I’d be even more tired by morning. At this point, all I now wanted was an assurance I was signed up and hadn’t somehow inadvertently or via glitchily cancelled my medical plan.

Forget the price of medications. I was too tired to keep on keeping on, so this morning I got up and called the number that was supposed to work, but it was closed until Monday. Of course.

I also got transferred a lot, but at least not disconnected. Everyone was enormously polite, friendly, and unable to help me. At all.  Of course, no one mentioned that the databank was down, too. That was the guy at Medicare who told me. How come HE knew but the people at BlueCross didn’t know?

One Titmouse and a Chickadee. They will share the feeder … but from opposite sides and they never touch.

I was getting increasingly frustrated. So after I had coffee in hand, I tried calling in a prescription. I figured if I wasn’t signed up, they’d tell me because my card wouldn’t go through. Nope. It went through fine, no problem. Not only did it go through fine, but it went through for a medication that had no refills left. I have to call back and make sure she has the right number. Regardless, it was the first good news of the day.

Having tried every single number for BlueCross and getting nothing but people who didn’t seem able to access my type of BCBS care, I chanced upon the 24/7 number for Medicare. Even though I have an Advantage plan, it’s still a version of Medicare, so one way or the other, I had nothing to lose by trying.

And this is why I love Medicare. Not merely are they REALLY open 24/7 all year long, but they are consistently helpful, polite, and cooperative. If they don’t have the answer, they will find it, no matter how long it takes. And they never put me on hold.

I explained that I had had a software glitch with BlueCross and with an early doctor’s appointment Monday, I didn’t want to find myself dying due to a computer glitch. That would be too pathetic.

The guy at Medicare checked and said, “Don’t worry. There’s no problem. You are paid up and everything works.

So for all you people who are afraid of Medicare? Don’t be. It’s great. It really isn’t one of those messed up government agencies. In fact, I am convinced it is the ONLY government agency where everything actually works just like it is supposed to work.

Now at least I know I would not die from bad software and be buried in an Amazon box.

You all will LOVE Medicare. I promise.

To make things even better? The birds have already begun to return. There was a flock of Tufted Titmouses on the feeder this morning. Where there’s a Titmouse, can the American Goldfinch be far behind?

Author: Marilyn Armstrong

Opinionated writer with hopes for a better future for all of us!

16 thoughts on “THE JOY OF MEDICARE – Marilyn Armstrong”

  1. My wife is a nurse, over in the UK. They’ll prescribe something to someone, for a maximum of n times before the patient gets a review. Having said that, whenever someone requests something for the (n+1)th time, there is a policy that they will never refuse the request. Go figure… But maybe the same there?

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  2. I’ve had a ‘version’ of Medicare since 2013. Because I’m not old enough to qualify for the ‘real deal’, but it seems to all work the same and the original plan I was on was called “Medicare”. No ‘disability” qualifier. In 2016 (ish) I was convinced by a slick Wilimenha (the female version of Willie) to switch to an “advantage’ (supplemental) plan. I’m with another huge conglomerate that has a weak tea version of the ‘real’ medicare. I had this particular company when I was employed, and overall they aren’t bad. Too damned big and their prescription policy is for the birds (apologies to extremely cute titmice..). Things keep rising in cost and diminishing in quantity. I am now forced to deal with Wal*Mart (shudder gag) to get my necessary insulin, as my faux ‘medicare’ plan wants far too much money for it. I’m very glad you have had the good experience you did with Medicare. You deserve some peace of mind at the very least.

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    1. The Medicare Plan D (medication) plan is identical no matter who you get it from. That they keep cutting out medication so you get less money for more expensive medication? That’s Trump. And big Pharma.

      Nobody convinced me to join the advantage plan. I looked them up, saw what each was offering, then I called Medicare and asked THEM what my best choice was. They helped me sort through them and BCBS was definitely the best and also, the least expensive with the most options.

      You may have been on Medicaid (the state version of Medicare) which is usually better than Medicare because it’s cheaper. By a LOT. I don’t understand how you can into the wrong plan, but now is when you can get OUT of it. You have between Oct 1 and Jan 1 to pick a different plan. CALL MEDICARE AND ASK FOR HELP. There are a lot of choices and we all need help. But the medication package is identical from plan to plan. That doesn’t change.

      An “Advantage” plan is NOT a supplemental plan. It’s an HMO/POP version of Medicare and usually has fewer extra payments and many things are free. But you have to pick carefully and you have to understand what is being offered. If you don’t know what is being offered by each plan, you’ll never get the right one. BCBS is very good and it’s purely medical. It is NOT part of a giant conglomerate company. They do NOTHING but medical care and have never done anything else.

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