A few months ago, I opened a letter from Silver Script, my Medicare Drug plan, to find my insurance was canceled. I was in shock. I was further stunned, when I called they told me I had never paid them in 4 years. After checking with my bank – sure enough, I had paid them for 4 years through auto pay but the payments were going to Health – Net, who never sent them on to Silver Script or let me know I was paying them erroneously. Silver Script had never sent a notice that they never were paid and said it was a Medicare policy.
I have a master’s degree in aging from UC Berkeley and 40 years of experience with Geriatric Care Management. I am no Medicare slouch.
So, I relentlessly tried to straighten this out and only was told I had never paid, even if I did pay another plan. To add salt to the Medicare induced wound, Health Net also denied these payments were ever made to them.
But I had one big trick up my sleeve. Because I teach aging, I knew who to call to break through this boondoggle. I called SHIP ( State Health Insurance program). An expert volunteer who was an accountant immediately called Medicare and Medicare filed a claim with Silver Script after I presented banking records for 4 years showing I had paid.
Immediately and I had a personal representative from Silver Script, who handled Medicare claims. She solved the entire mess post-haste and had me reinstated. What my years in Aging had given me was the keys to the hard to unlock Medicare vault- SHIP.
This little-advertised program is your GPS to untangling Medicare. You can go before you are eligible and they will find the best Medicare insurance carrier and program for you, by matching your health needs with the many confusing plans. Ship demystifies Medicare and as my case illustrates, becomes your powerful advocate when you have run into what Dickens so bitingly called “The Circumlocution Office” or bureaucracy ‘s never ending roundabouts that never lead to your destination.
There is a SHIP in nearly every county, providing advice over the phone, in person, and at public meetings. Some SHIP counselors even make house calls. This very personal one- to -one help is what disabled and aging seniors need to understand their complicated Medicare choices and advocate for them when they need an expert problem solver to push through the Medicare maze.
The bad news is – The Trump administration has proposed eliminating – the very gear that allows you to steer yourself through any Medicare boondoggle. SHIP will loose its funding if we do not advocate for it. Congress will slash SHIP’s $52 million annual budget by $49 million, effectively ending federal support of the program.
This is a first shot at getting rid Medicare and a strong warning.
Baby Boomers Unite- you know how to protest. Adult children ACT quickly. Write to all your congress men and women and ask them to vote again a cut in SHIP. You can e mail- calling is very effective as well. But ACT and do not wait- or it will be gone.