Keys Disease

Keys Disease
Battling Keys Disease at the Futura Yacht Club in Islamorada, Fla. three years ago.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

I Really Hate Covering the Same Ground Twice!


I'm not the kind of guy who welcomes covering the same ground twice. It runs counter to my nature. I am such a slacker at heart, I can barely stand to do something the first time; let alone, go back and do it again.

This goes double for sending off an e-mail to an editor to make a correction in a story that I've already filed or, heaven forbid, one that has already posted. I found myself doing that twice in the past week with two different first-drive reviews that I had to knock out over a 36 -hour period. It's even worse when the error is pointed out to me by the carmaker, as one of my recent errors was. Ouch.

One of the best things about writing for dot-coms is that errors are easily fixed. It doesn't alleviate the embarrassment; but it does mean that, if caught in time, most readers will never be aware of the initial foul up. Unlike print media where the error remains for eternity, only mildly mitigated by a correction in the next issue, online mistakes can be erased. It's still not fun to go hat in hand to an editor bearing the evidence that you are an idiot. Not to mention, it's wasting time that shouldn't have been wasted.

I hate covering the same ground twice.

In that vein, here's a bit of advice: Don't turn 65 if you can avoid it. Here endith the lesson for the day.

Sprinkled within my parade of personal and business trips the past six weeks – and there have been a bunch of them – were all-too-brief periods at home during which I was faced with addressing all the nonsense involved in turning 65, which I will officially do this Sunday. Gasp!

My dad died at age 52 and my mother at 55. Those who know me are aware that I always believed I'd be dead by age 60. Had I known what a pain in the ass it would be to turn 65, I might have worked harder to make that age-60 end date a reality.

At the top of the turning-65-BS-hit list is making the transition from Obamacare to Medicare. I didn't want to participate in Obamacare to begin with. In fact, I didn't its first year, opting instead to pay the $95-or-so fine – and yes my civics-challenged friends it's a fine and not a tax – rather than be just another leech on the butt cheek of society. However, when that fine grew to more than my piddly income dictated I would have to pay in premiums, sadly, I capitulated.

Because I did the math and decided the best way to maximize my Social Security benefits over the long haul was to begin accepting payments at age 62, I didn't have the choice as to exactly which month Medicare would kick in. Without wading too far into the weeds, anyone not already accepting SS benefits at age 65, has a four or five month window in which to sign up for Medicare. Those already accepting SS benefits when they turn 65 are automatically signed up for Parts A & B in their birthday month.

See, you've learned something else today.

Once I was aware that that the Feds were going to enroll me in Medicare this month, I had to take some action. I had a small three-day window the end of July to meet with an independent insurance agent to discuss my Medicare options. There is a lot to digest in this arena.

I met with Marvin Carter of the Carter Agency in Mauldin, SC on the Thursday morning of July 21st. Marvin gave me the basic 411 on my options using an automotive metaphor. Yes, he dumbed it down for me. He sent me home with a hearty handshake and an armload of research materials.

I occupied myself through most of Friday pouring through my Medicare homework and considering my options. Having come to a decision, mid afternoon I called Marvin. I had already discussed with him my jammed-up schedule that had me flying out to a Nissan program on Sunday that was backed against a personal trip to see my family in New Mexico that carried me through the end of the month. He volunteered his wife Bonnie to come in on Saturday morning to meet with me and sign all the paperwork.

The issue was an appointment with Doc Budelmann, scheduled five months earlier that was to take place on August 19th. I wanted to have all my ducks in a row, so to speak, so there weren't any insurance issues in paying for that visit.

Sometimes I make myself laugh.

Then began my quest to cancel my Obamacare policy. What a shit show. I won't bore you with the details of this fool's errand, but it required nearly two weeks to finally determine the agency responsible for processing my cancellation request. Any sane person would think that it's the insurance provider carrying your policy, right? Wrong. Nope. You've got to go the Obamacare exchange. Because it's government, and that this government agency has to sift through the layers and finally notify the insurance provider, my Obamacare policy remains in effect until August 30th.

“So what?” you ask. So what, indeed.

My gut told me to postpone my doctor's appointment until September when all of this would be resolved, but I pressed ahead anyway. Arriving at the doctor's office, my shiny, new Humana Medicare Advantage card in hand, I explained to the doctor's assistant that I was changing insurance providers. After clicking away on her laptop for a while, she reported that both insurance providers were listed as my primary insurance and I needed to choose between them. Despite having to fork over a $15 copay with the Medicare insurance – office visits were free with my Obamacare policy – I opted for Medicare.

Once I got into see the doc, we agreed I would have a couple of tests Medicare requires, as well as a couple of immunizations that Medicare pays for in full. As I cooled my heels waiting to get into the in-house lab to have blood drawn, the doc's assistant tracked me down to double check on my insurance-provider decision. Totally confused, I hemmed and hawed for a few seconds. She said I could have the weekend to think about it. I was to call her on Monday.

Calling, I left a message on her voicemail that I would stick with Medicare. Thinking all was right with the world, I went my merry way. Later that day, I received a call from her that the insurance clerk at the office reported that she couldn't file the insurance-claim request with both insurance companies still designating themselves as my primary insurance. I had to go to my Obamacare provider and get them to designate themselves as my secondary insurer.

Knowing the carrier would just pass me off to the government, I called the Obamacare agency. A 15-minute phone call produced virtually no results. Although the person with whom I spoke was very accommodating, the long and short of it is that they could make themselves the secondary insurer, but it would require about two weeks. Let's see, it's August 23rd and the policy was already scheduled to officially cancel on the 30th....carry the one.... So what good would that do me?

Calling back the doc's office I explained the time issue and offered that if the insurance clerk simply waited until September 1st to file the claim, there (fingers crossed) shouldn't be an issue. Three days later I haven't heard anything more about it. I have no clue if the problem is solved. If not, round three.

Did I mention I hate covering the same ground twice. I really hate it a third time!

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