By Susan Jaffe: For More Info, Go Here…
At least a quarter of a million Medicare beneficiaries may receive bills for as many as five months of premiums they thought they already paid.
But they shouldn’t toss the letter in the garbage. It’s not a scam or a mistake.
Because of what the Social Security Administration calls “a processing error” that occurred in January, it did not deduct premiums from some seniors’ Social Security checks and it didn’t pay the insurance plans, according to the agency’s “frequently asked questions” page on its website. The problem applies to private drug policies and Medicare Advantage plans that provide both medical and drug coverage and substitute for traditional government-run Medicare.
Some people will discover they must find the money to pay the plans. Others could get cancellation notices. Medicare officials say approximately 250,000 people are affected.
Medicare and Social Security said they expect proper deductions and payments to insurers will resume this month or next. Insurers are required to send bills directly to their members for the unpaid premiums, according to Medicare.
But neither agency would explain how the error occurred or provide a more exact number or the names of the plans that were shortchanged. The amount the plans are owed also wasn’t disclosed. A notice to beneficiaries on Medicare’s website lacks key details.
Organizations that help seniors say they are getting some questions from Medicare beneficiaries. Two seniors in Louisiana lost drug coverage after their policies were canceled because of the SSA error, said the state’s Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) director, Vicki Dufrene. One woman had had the same drug plan since 2013, and it dropped her at the end of April. She was without coverage for the entire month of May until earlier this week, when Dufrene was able to get her retroactively re-enrolled.