Sunday, May 5, 2013

Don’t Tase Me for Medicare Fraud, Bro




I’ve been a bad puppy. At least it seems that way. But I never meant for it to go down like it did. Still, I suppose it’s ultimately my fault, my responsibility and I’m the one who’s got to make it right.

Let me tell you what happened.

About six months ago I received a notice from my Medicare supplemental insurance provider—let’s call them “Purple Cross Purple Shield”-- that my pharmacy had not collected enough of a co pay on a prescription purchase I’d made months earlier. “This is not a bill,” they assured me. “We will deduct the money from over payments you make in the future.” Apparently they got tired of waiting for over payments, because last week I did receive a bill in the mail for the full amount of the underpayment. All 22 cents of it.

That’s 22 cents.

Cents, not dollars.

Cents.

Now, I have no idea how much it cost them to send me that bill. The bill for 22 cents, that is. I have no idea how much it cost them to enclose a postage paid envelope or if it will cost them anything on their end when they receive it back, and I don’t know how much it will cost them to process that payment when they receive it. All 22 cents of it. But it didn’t make a lot of sense (that’s “sense” not “cents”) to me why an organization that had handled my health care costs promptly and efficiently up to that point would suddenly start hyperventilating over 22 cents,  Then I read a little further into the letter, and there it was. “The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services requires us to attempt to collect the balance owed.” So it’s not Purple Cross Purple Shield that decided to go into full collection mode over the 22 cents at all. It’s the government agency charged with controlling health care costs. Now I was beginning to understand.


On the plus side, the government agency never claimed that I purposely withheld the 22 cents, but they did insist on their right to a reimbursement of those funds. In a more perfect world, the agency might have gone after my pharmacy, which, after all, was the one that made the mistake about the amount of the 22 cent deductible. In a more perfect and reasonable world, the government would have written off anything under, say, $10 to $40 at a minimum, because is surely costs them more than that to try to collect it. Still, that wouldn’t have absolved me of my guilt for…for…for whatever it is I must have done wrong that ultimately put the full force of the United States government all over my ancient ass for 22 cents. Cents, not dollars. 

Cents. 

 Twenty two of 'em..

Don’t think I’m down on government, though. Not for a minute. Because they were there to help too. They wanted to help me so bad they made me the following offer:

“We understand that even the smallest unplanned expense can cause difficulty, and we have payment options available if you’re unable to pay the full amount due at this time.” The full amount of which was--you guessed it--22 cents.




Let me be honest here. I thought about it. I really did. After all, they are the ones who offered to set up payment arrangements for the money I owed them—all 22 cents of it. They also assured me not to worry that my coverage would stop “while we’re working this issue out.” All 22 cents of issue. But at my age I don’t have enough time left to do all the stupid that dealing with the government requires. So instead, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to write out a check for 22 cents. I’m going to put my account number on the check like they asked, and enclose it in the prepaid envelope along with the handy payment coupon they also mailed me. But before I drop it in the mail slot, I’m going to enclose one more thing—my request for a written receipt.

19 comments:

  1. Haggis, I would have been very tempted to submit the paperwork (and I hate paperwork!) and have them go through the machinations of setting up a payment plan. C'mon it would be great fodder for another story.

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    1. 'Preesh, Bill. I'm curmudgeon enough to do it, but realist enough to figure it won't do any good at all. Which is sad. Not so much for me, but for my kids and grandspawn. Still, that receipt might make a great family heirloom, don't you think? :D

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  2. Oh, I've received bills like this in the past. Very sad that corporations can't use common sense, that's 'sense', not 'cents', and disregard such non'sense'.

    I'd be too curious about the payment options and would probably try one of those out.

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    1. I haven't sent them the 22 cents yet. Still considering.Besides, surely they understand I need the full 30 days to pay.

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  3. YOU !!!! YOU !!!

    You are what is WRONG with this country because you are one of the whatever it is percent of the takers in this country that are draining and straining our budget of hard earned sense when you could certainly have afforded to not only lay out the twenty two sents but another twenty too for the next poorer shlep or whatever it is who really cant affort that in his budget without giving up a tenth of a can of Alpo or something that might be on his menu for some night or lunch when you were knot thinging of anybody except your self or somebody and probably did so if the government cant recover as much to get the 22 scents as they are going to have to spend tracking a dead beat like you down and collecting there cache because

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    1. I get your point really I do except that you never send me any maple syrple so it sometimes makes it tough not to simply go off on you because youre living in canadia instead of the U Ess of Hay and besides Ive heard bad things about you and goats which reminds me of how much I love lamb which I havent had lately because Hunny doesn't like it even though it has way more flavor than lizards which would taste better themselves if perhaps they were stewed in maple syrple because

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    2. Quit dissing Canadians, puppy, or we'll boil you in maple syrup. Which by the way, is 48 dollars a gallon, far more than the meastly pittance you owe the health care "system" in your country.

      I'm with Porter. Pay up your 22 cents, or the government will probably send hit men after you, and they cost an arm and a leg (yours, actually)...

      Seriously, though, I'm with those who think you should try and set up a payment plan. 22 cents is a lot of money. With that amount, you can buy (very nearly) a whole gumball from a gumball machine. That's a lot of moolah, puppy. It'll take you a while to get that much together, I'm sure...

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    3. Ruth? Is that $48per gallon in Canadian money or real money?

      *runs*

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  4. Oh, my! Has the US been taking lessons from South Africa? Our 'powers that be', blessed with no foresight, less insight and not-too-much hindsight, minted 5c coins that contained about 10c worth of copper in each one. They've since been recalled. Go figure!
    PS. Don't let this get you all steamed up, pup. The blood-pressure medication could be costly. :D

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    1. Gail, we still use a copper penny here. Well, part copper. It costs more than it's worth too. Then again, our politicians are paid more than they're worth, so it stands to reason, you know?

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  5. I would have taped 22 pennies to a piece of cardboard, put it in one of the bubbley manila envelopes, spent an addition $1.50 on postage and mailed it back. But then I can be a jerk sometimes. reg :)

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    1. A jerk? You, reg?

      Never.

      Mostly.





      :D

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    2. You know me so well :D

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  6. Geeze weeze Haggis. Why so bent? That $000.22 is tax deductible. Photocopy the receipt, just in case it forces an audit. Better safe than sorry. Get the photocopy at Copy Cat and ask for a receipt. You can deduct it too.

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    1. Of course I'm planning on deducting the 22 cents (that's cents, not dollars), but as you know, I can only deduct it if my total health care expenses exceed 7 1/2 % of my AGI. And even then, it's only a deduction. It's not like it's a dollar for dollar (or in this case cents for cents) savings.

      BTW, do you think I can claim a deduction for the mileage to and from Copy Cat?

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  7. There, there, Haggis.
    It all makes perfect sense if you don't think about it... :P - Cella

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    1. Most things make perfect sense when I don't think about them, Cella.

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  8. I'd send you the .22 cents, Haggis, but I owe the electric company .30 and they're threatening to turn off my power. Can I borrow .08 cents, please? Nevermind, you have your own problems, I'll just put in for the payment plan.

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    1. Dragon, I can do a check or money order for the 8 cents, but you'll have to send me a stamped, self addressed envelope first. That won't be a problem, will it? :D

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