Monday, January 24, 2011

Medicare Dialogue. Who’s on First?

I enrolled in Medicare and obtained a card last month. Today I received a letter from Medicare asking me to complete an Initial Enrollment Questionnaire (IEQ). A four-sided paper form was included. The letter stated that the form could be completed on-line which was preferred. I went to the website and registered. I could not find the area on the website that was said to be where the form was located. Here is the transcript of my chat with Medicare’s on-line chat support. Some of you may be old enough to remember the old Abbott and Costello routine entitled, “Who’s on First?

Agent:
Hi, my name is Agent Doe. Do not disclose any personal data such as your Health Insurance Claim Number and/or your password to me. To start, may I have your zip code and state of residence please?
Skeptical:
00000 USA
Agent:
Thank you, Mr. Scalpel. How may I help you today?
Skeptical:
I am trying to locate the IEQ on line
Agent:
When does your Medicare go into effect, sir?
Skeptical:
Already in effect
Agent:
When did it go into effect, sir?
Skeptical:
Early December of 2010.
Agent:
Did both Part A and Part B go into effect December 1, 2010?
Skeptical:
I only enrolled in Part A.
Agent:
The IEQ form will be available to you 90 days before and 180 days after your Medicare entitlement. This only applies if you are turning age 65 and are enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Skeptical:
I received the paper IEQ in the mail today.
Agent:
Unfortunately, the form is not available for you to complete online. You will need to complete the Initial Enrollment Questionnaire manually and mail it in via Standard U.S. Mail.
Skeptical:
The letter says go to MyMedicare.gov and sign in. Then go to "My publications and tools," which I cannot find. Why would they tell me to do that if it's not available on line?
Agent:
I apologize about the inconvenience, sir. If you need a paper copy of the form, I have to refer you to the Medicare Coordination of Benefits Contractor. Please call them at 1-800-999-1118. Their hours of operation are Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, except holidays.
Skeptical:
I have the paper copy.
Agent:
The letter that is sent is a standardized letter that is sent to all beneficiaries that are becoming eligible for Medicare. However, it only applies to beneficiaries who are turning age 65 and are enrolled in Medicare Part B.
Skeptical:
If I'm not enrolled in Part B, then why bother to even send in the paper form?
Agent:
The letter that was sent to you is sent to all newly eligible beneficiaries regardless if you have Part A only, Part B only or both A and B. I apologize about the inconvenience, Mr. Scalpel.
Skeptical:
OK, thanks.

5 comments:

Linda said...

I just spent an hour going through the same thing!!! Also sent an e-mail only to get a reply "returned - mailbox full" ... Finally went to Google trying to find out HOW to get to the IEQ Form and found this! I give up!!! :-(

Anonymous said...

A typical government website: tries too hard and does nothing useful. I just wasted an hour looking for the IEQ online. I never got one in the mail either.

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Your hour wasn't wasted. You found my blog. :-)

Anonymous said...

My medicare kicks in in a month or so, and I got the IEQ letter today (a Saturday). I set up a login and password and tried to fill out the IEQ. The second or third question was about my spouse and his/her coverage. Well, I'm not married, and there's no place to tell it that -- every field was required. I went to the online chat, and the agent told me to call the number, which I need to do on Monday. Who built that system, anyway? grrrrrr

Skeptical Scalpel said...

Anon, great story. It's nice to see that nothing has changed in the almost 3 years since I wrote this post.

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