Hard for me to believe but I am about to go on Medicare! I have some knowledge and experience with Medicare since my mother and father had it when they were living. It certainly provided well for them. I also see the other side of the Medicare coin — the reimbursement side — as I serve on the board of the regional hospital here in Connecticut where I live. As far as I can remember, my parents were never denied coverage or reimbursement for something they needed. However, in the bigger picture of the hospital the pressures are clear and present. Downward pressures. Denial for reimbursement for things that happen to patients that Medicare decides should not happen. Intense scrutiny on charges that are submitted and threatened cuts to overall doctor reimbursements which may further threaten the availability of Primary Care Physicians. On the other hand are the TV advertisements showing smiling seniors zooming around their kitchen on stylish electric wheelchairs grinning about how Medicare has paid for the wheels. You have to wonder how much waste is in the system. Now I am about to find out in the years ahead and on a first hand basis.
The experience to date has been only with the administrative aspects– the clinical part does not start for a couple of months. After being notified by both the government and by IBM that the enrollment window had opened, I headed for medicare.gov. Much to my surprise the entire enrollment was able to be completed online. No faxes, no forms, no paper. The site was smooth and intuitive. Today I received the Medicare card via snailmail. This is when the first disappointment began. With my new Medicare number in hand I headed to the mymedicare.gov portal to see what was there.
I went through the simple registration process and then got a message saying I had already been enrolled. Turns out they do this automatically once you are assigned the Medicare number. Ok, great, now I can just sign in. But, what is my login id? Where do I get a password? I tried the “forgot my login” link without luck. Clicked help and saw they have live chat support. Great. The rep’s first question was what browser are you using? Chrome. We don’t support that. You have to use Internet Explorer or Safari. Yuk. I do not use IE — it is the worst browser as discussed in patrickWeb many times. I don’t like Safari either. Why is it that you support only two browsers? That is all we support. No Firefox? No. Also, you must disable pop-up blocking. In Safari this is all or nothing, so to use mymedicare you have to expose yourself to any and all pop-ups on any site. Very bad. Finally gave up with the rep and called to speak to one. She was very helpful but said the problem is that my login had just been established three days ago and you can only request this every eleven days. Just be patient and wait for a letter in the mail with you password! Government one. Citizen zero.