A Health Insurance Address Change Sends Me Down the Rabbit Hole

Ed Tobias avatar

by Ed Tobias |

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For my wife, Laura, and I, trying to change our address on our health insurance accounts last week was like following Alice down the rabbit hole.

As Lewis Carroll wrote in the classic children’s novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”:

The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.

We’re both enrolled in Medicare parts A and B, which cover almost all of our hospital costs and about 80% of our doctor bills. We also have a supplemental Medigap policy to cover the remaining costs. In addition, we each have Medicare Part D plans covering a portion of our pharmaceutical costs.

The Medigap policy and Part D plans are written by insurance companies, not the government. As the cost of multiple sclerosis and other treatments continues to rise, it’s essential that I continue with all of this coverage.

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My journey began when my wife received a letter from her Medicare Part D insurance provider that was sent to our old address.

“We have recently received information your address may have changed and that you may not live inside the service area,” it noted.

It was like a pilot warning the passengers that some turbulence might be ahead. I fastened my seat belt.

I’d already changed our address with Medicare but had been putting off changing it with the Medigap and Part D folks because I dread having to deal with health insurance companies. In this case, I needed to deal with two.

The Medigap plan

The Medigap change wasn’t too bad. A helpful gentleman asked a few questions and changed the address. But then he added: “You know you’re changing service areas by moving from Maryland to Florida, right?”

I did know that.

He continued: “And because of that, there’s going to be a rate change.”

That I didn’t know. Thankfully, while it did entail a rate increase, the amount wasn’t too much. The first change was complete.

My prescription plan

The man I spoke with to change the Part D information also was friendly. He worked for the same insurance company as the other man, but in a different department. He seemed knowledgeable as he guided me through the process to change my information on my Part D pharmaceutical plan.

He also noted that I’d be changing service areas. I’d have to cancel my Maryland plan and sign up for a Florida policy. I was prepared for his warning that my rate might increase a little.

He gave me a choice of three plans. The plan with the lowest monthly premium, which was similar to my Maryland coverage, had a $300 deductible.

“But I’ve already paid a deductible for this year, right?” I asked.

He checked, and I had, which meant I didn’t have to pay an additional deductible for the year, and I had a monthly rate that was within pennies of what I’d paid in Maryland. I’m glad I asked.

My wife’s prescription plan

A call to my wife’s Plan D provider took me deeper into the rabbit hole. Calling the customer care number in the “your address may have changed” letter she received brought me to a woman who took down all of the information I had given during my other two calls. But just as we were about to finish the conversation, she asked for my wife’s Medicare number.

Laura was out, so the woman gave me another number to call the next day. She promised to save all of the information I had given her.

The next day, with Medicare card in hand, I called. And guess what? They didn’t have any of my info. Not only that, after about 10 minutes of back-and-forth, we discovered I was talking to the wrong company. The woman I had spoken with the previous day had erroneously given me the number of my Part D company, not my wife’s.

So, I’ll soon be dialing my fourth toll-free number in a week. 

Again, from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”: 

“‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘—so long as I get SOMEWHERE,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.'”

Check the comments column below in the next few days for an update on “Ed’s Adventures in Wonderland.” You’re also invited to visit my personal blog at www.themswire.com.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Comments

doreen lubin avatar

doreen lubin

this story is very similar to all. the insurance co., are unbelievable. being sick is not easy you would think that insurance co, would make life easier ,they dont!

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Doreen,

I have trouble deciding which is better (or worse). Paying premiums and hassling with insurance, but being able to choose my physicians, getting an appointment fairly quickly, and having a wide range of MS medications from which to choose....or having a government-run healthcare system, which covers all of my care, but having fewer choices and longer waits for care.

Ed

Reply
John Brett avatar

John Brett

I would like to refer you all to an article in the Ottawa Citizen from January 15, 1986 by Charles Gordon.
It points out the supremacy of Insurance companies that is vey funny and actually not funny at all.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks for the suggestion, John. I'll try to find it.

Ed

Reply
Paula Mieczkowski avatar

Paula Mieczkowski

Another good one Ed. This insurance puzzle is ridiculous for everyone, not just MS people. I just gave in.lol. I’ve United healthcare and thankfully I’ve never used the hospital part. As much as I dislike their drug supplement I chose it. Want to switch because I hate the idea of giving to the Democratic Party. Just don’t want the aggravation of changing. I’ll get to it eventually though. Probably the next snowy day we have here in West by God Virginia.

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Thanks, Paula. I don't quite understand how switching insurance is "giving in" to a political party, but you need to do what's best for your health...politics aside, right?

I'm sure you'll do it soon since I know snow is never far away in WV this time of year. (My wife and I love to visit Shepardstown in the fall and early winter.)

Ed

Reply
Tom avatar

Tom

hi, double question. I the standard goverment health program ok? I was driven into by a normal bike driver I got pushed down hard, nothing broken, I impacted on the road and the bike didn't blined, be, I had a concusion and was tole by the ambulance driver/ medic to take the ambulnace to the hospital. The ER doc kept me overnight and on IV for shock. Wasn't this the right treatment> Not a lot of extra med.s. Now, the VA says it will not pay because it wasn't necessarey. And wiill not oay.! I was following the MEDIC / Doc' insturctions, If I didn't and had an exaspiration, what thene? I am still having problems from the accident. Is'nt right that I did what the medi/doc instucted?

Thank.. I've objected to the VA!

Reply
Ed Tobias avatar

Ed Tobias

Hi Tom,

I'm sorry for the problems you've had. I have no idea why the VA rejected you claim but I hope they'll act favorably on your appeal. If you continue to have trouble with the VA your Member of Congress might be able to help. You could try calling his or her office and explaining your situation.

Ed

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