American Exceptionalism: Health care for seniors, episode 71

Medicare for all, baby.  

Just spent 45 minutes on the phone with a very nice receptionist at Medicare who reviewed my last few payments.  I’d made all of them, had not missed one.  I was calling to find out why they had threatened to cancel my Medicare health insurance with a delinquent premium notice and why I’d been billed an additional $510 (that I promptly paid, just to be safe) when the record showed I had paid it already, three months ago.   

The woman was very nice, but helpless.  She confirmed that I hadn’t missed a payment and that I shouldn’t have been sent a delinquent account notice, but, after placing me on hold several times, was unable to verify that the delinquent account notice had been sent in error, though from what she and I could tell, based on my payment record, it certainly had been.  Mistakes happen.  In 7-10 business days I’ll hear back from Medicare, if not, I should call again, and have a very nice day.

Need a colonoscopy, old man?    The Medicare.gov website tells you everything you need to know, or need to find out, or need ask your doctor, or research with a competent financial advisor who is schooled in the intricacies of the gold standard of American health insurance (not healthcare, that’s for godless commies and people in less exceptional nations) for old people who don’t have better health insurance.  Here you go, from Medicare.gov:

Medicare covers screening colonoscopies once every 24 months if you’re at high risk for colorectal cancer. If you aren’t at high risk, Medicare covers the test once every 120 months, or 48 months after a previous flexible sigmoidoscopy. There’s a minimum age requirement of 45.  (note, Medicare does not cover anyone under 65, does it?)

If your doctor or other qualified health care provider accepts assignment, you pay nothing for this test. However, if your doctor finds and removes a polyp or other tissue during the colonoscopy, you pay 15% of the Medicare-Approved Amount for your doctors’ services. In a hospital outpatient setting, you also pay the hospital a 15% coinsurance. The Part B deductible doesn’t apply. If you initially have a non-invasive stool-based screening test (fecal occult blood tests or multi-target stool DNA test) and receive a positive result, Medicare also covers a follow-up colonoscopy as a screening test

Note: To find out how much your test, item, or service will cost, talk to your doctor or health care provider. The specific amount you’ll owe may depend on several things, like:

Other insurance you may have

How much your doctor charges

If your doctor accepts assignment

The type of facility where you get your test, item, or service

Note: Your doctor or other health care provider may recommend you get services more often than Medicare covers. Or, they may recommend services that Medicare doesn’t cover. If this happens, you may have to pay some or all of the costs.

Ask questions so you understand why your doctor is recommending certain services and if, or how much, Medicare will pay for them.

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