I’m turning 65 in 8 weeks, and will be getting Medicare on September 1st. I have spent the entire past three weeks learning about all the options and various plans available. (The rules and options are WAY more complicated than they should be, and I’m convinced that only a small minority of seniors really take the trouble to understand their choices.) I decided on one of Anthem’s policies, and proceeded to fill in the on-line application. There are a lot of steps to the application, and near the end you have to do an “electronic signature.” Right away I got an error stating that a middle initial is necessary. Except that I don’t have a middle name. And there’s no way to get around the error.
So I called their customer service number, and was told I have to start the application from scratch, over the phone. AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHH! That means having to spell out everything, have them read the spelling back to me, etc., etc., etc., then after she had all my information, the lady had to read everything back to me, spelling everything again . . . and had to read me every bit of the legal fine print that accompanies the policy. And she was obligated to read ALL the fine print, even the parts that don’t in any way apply to me.
I was on the phone for over an hour, just because I don’t have a fucking middle initial. (And no, I couldn’t just make up a middle initial; that could void the policy.)
If you are having problems choosing a Medicare Advantage or a Medigap plan, I highly recommend your State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance Programs . It is a free counseling service to help people determine what policy is the best for them, and what company will provide the best value. My wife recently became eligible for Medicare, and navigating the application process for supplemental insurance was much easier as a result of the help we got from SHIP.
I know what you mean. When my husband went on disability, it was insane trying to figure out what we needed to sign up for. I can just imagine what someone without internet access and/or the ability to read a ton of documentation would do.
I strongly recommend this as well. You can also try your local Area Agency on Aging, but they’ll probably send you to your SHIP. Unfortunately, open enrollment is just around the corner, too, so you’re probably going to get an annual notice of change in two months letting you know how the plan will change, along with all kinds of other shit.
It probably doesn’t make it any better, but the government requires the plans to do stuff like that, including the huge reams of “marketing” material you’ll get (which is really not traditionally marketing, but the government says it is) along with your card. Plus, I believe Blue Cross was sanctioned last year and prohibited from enrolling further beneficiaries due to predatory marketing practices (this was associated with their brokers, not their call center, which is probably who you talked to). I’d imagine that they’re going exactly by the book now, no matter what it takes. If they don’t, they could lose their contract.
Yep. It’s a lot like throwing darts at a board. My job is actually to manage a selection service and related (and not-so-related) regulatory affairs to make sure we’re following appropriate laws. I won’t go into it because it’d be shitty to do that. What I will say is that the whole thing is so freakin’ subjective. Even doing what I do, I can see why people would use a friend or family member. You know exactly who’s giving you the information and they’re often enrolled in the plan they recommend.