Medicare Part D Drug Plan Mix-upby Denise Early on Dec. 14, 2010, under Health
Thousands of Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled Medicare Advantage plans and Part D drug plans that are being canceled or drastically changed for 2011. Unless these people have carefully read the information sent to them by their plan, they will be in for a rude surprise in January.
UnitedHealthcare Drug plan
Over the last two years, I have enrolled many people in Medicare supplements who took no prescription drugs. These people did not want to pay $30 or more for a Part D plan they didn’t need, but they did not want to face a premium penalty in the future when they need a Part D plan. My suggestion was that they call up UnitedHealthcare and enroll in their Part D plan that cost just over $10 per month. This allowed them to be in the Part D system for a minimal cost. That United plan is being canceled for 2011 and these folks received a letter saying they will be automatically enrolled in the AARP Medicare Rx plan that costs $28.60 per month.
I talked to one of my clients yesterday who had already enrolled in the $14 Humana-Walmart plan for 2011. Maryann told me she had just received a letter from Social Security informing her that $28.60 per month will be deducted from her Social Security check to pay for her Part D plan. Uh oh.
I told Maryann to call Medicare to ask them what Part D plan is in her record for 2011. Medicare said she’s in the Humana-Walmart plan. Next I told her to call Social Security to ask why she’s paying for a plan she is not enrolled in. The Social Security representative could not answer her question and said he would change her record to stop the $28.60 monthly payment – but this could take three months. (!!!)
So Maryann will be paying for two Part D plans for at least three months in 2011 – even though she doesn’t even need a Part D plan.
My question is why Medicare allowed this automatic enrollment from a $10 plan to a $28.60 plan. I suppose they didn’t want people who don’t read their mail to end up without a Part D plan in 2011. But it seems the Medicare and Social Security information systems are not connected, resulting in mix-ups that may affect thousands of people like Maryann.
Next: Why did Medicare allow Health Net to drop thousands of low-income people from the Amber plan?
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