As many as 250,000 Medicare beneficiaries…..but perhaps even more……. may find their Social Security payments reduced because of a mistake by Medicare. Kaiser Health News reports that what the Social Security Administration calls “a processing error” that occurred in January, the agency failed to deduct premiums from some seniors’ Social Security checks and it didn’t pay the insurance plans. (read more at the agency’s “frequently asked questions” page ) Neither Medicare nor Social Security Administration was forthcoming about 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. Medicare’s notice to beneficiaries was also lacking in details. So here’s what we know so far:
WHO IS AFFECTED
- If you have a private drug policies and Medicare Advantage plans that provide both medical and drug coverage and substitute for traditional government-run Medicare.
- If you had your plans’ premiums paid through a deduction from Social Security checks.
HOW TO FIND OUT IF YOU WERE AFFECTED
- If your SSA payments increased in 2019, it might have been because of this glitch
- If you are unable to find out from your plan whether you were affected — or if you learn that you were indeed affected try calling 800-MEDICARE, or 800-633-4227.
- The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) is a federally funded programs offer free counseling and assistance to Medicare beneficiaries. Check them out at national SHIP website and click on the “Find Local Medicare Help” button in the upper right corner.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, and two colleagues wrote to both agencies about the problem on May 22 but have not received a response from Medicare. As we learn more, we’ll pass it along. Until then, please know that the affected insurers must allow their members at least two months from the billing date to pay. And they must offer a payment plan for those who can’t pay several months of premiums at once. You can’t lose your coverage, due to this mistake.