Friday, April 05, 2013

Why can't Medicare "go paperless"?

This will come as no surprise to anyone who reads this who is on Medicare, but it sure isn't hard to suggest some obvious measures that would help the program save money.

Every month I receive an envelope that displays, on the exterior, this phrase:

Inside, the enclosure is headed with this:
 The government takes my payment directly out of my bank account. The monthly mailing is just a receipt.

Unlike any other big institution I deal with, there is no option to "go paperless." My bank statement is paperless; my electric bills are paperless; the water bill is paperless. The IRS even takes my taxes out of my bank account by way of online filing. But for some reason Medicare is still sending me mailings, mailings I might easily find confusing or frightening. This doesn't make sense.

And that doesn't even go into the difficulties I had setting up automatic payment from my bank. Now I know most people get their premiums deducted directly from their Social Security -- but I haven't taken Social Security yet. But I certainly didn't want to have to write the government a check every month, so I figured they ought to be able to do direct withdrawal (everyone else does.) Not so easy. It's not as if there's an online way to request bank withdrawals. I had to call up and talk to a nice man who answers inquiries; he had to mail me the correct form; I had to fill it out and mail it back; and then I had wait six weeks while they processed it.

This is nuts. The municipal garbage authority can do this immediately, online. Why not Medicare?

Don't get me wrong -- I'll fight to the death any politician who wants to cut or privatize the system. But I look forward to the day when Medicare lumbers into the current century.


PseudoPiskie said...

I just got a call from the cable company asking what to do with a check. We bought an ad which has nothing to do with the cable subscribers. The billing address is correct in the bank's online billing but that's not where they sent the bill. The bank changed everything but the amount. I wonder what sort of reply I'll get to my inquiry.

Anonymous said...

I just received a 25-page Part B claims statement from Medicare. Are you freaking kidding me?! I receive 4-5 pages every month from my Part D Plan, plus 2-3 booklets each year. If the annual booklet can be sent electronically, why can't we opt out of all these statements as well? I know my Part B claims are available online long before I see a paper statement. I can print them out if I need a paper copy. We could probably fund Medicare through the year 3000 if they would stop all the paper!

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