“If you get a letter about overdue Medicare premiums, don’t assume it’s a mistake or a scam — you may indeed owe money.” Explains America United Planner John T. Davis. “At least 250,000 seniors may soon receive a bill for up to five months of premiums that they thought had been paid.”
“This isn’t because of anything that you did wrong,” he adds, “It’s the result of a processing error that occurred in January, according to Kaiser Health News reports.”
It turns out that according to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the government agency did not properly deduct Medicare premium costs from some seniors’ Social Security checks earlier this year, so those seniors’ premiums did not get sent to their Medicare plans!
“Of course, now that Uncle Sam, has discovered the mistake, he wants you to pay up.”
According to the SSA: “If you are affected and haven’t already received a bill in the mail, you will soon. The first bill will likely be for a larger amount than usual to make up for the unpaid premiums.”
Of course, what really matters is what this means for Medicare enrollees, and what they should do now.
According to the federal program’s own notice about the premium glitch:
“You may be affected if you enrolled either in a Medicare Advantage Plan or in a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan for coverage starting January 1, 2019, and you asked to have your plan premiums taken out of your Social Security payments.”
If you fit that description, the Medicare program advises that you “contact your plan provider directly with any questions or concerns.” If you are unsure what plan you have, the program says to check your plan card or materials.
“One thing to remember,” says John, “is that you can always contact an organization like the Medicare Rights Center. This nonprofit notes that its Helpline counselors are available at 800-333-4114.”
What affected enrollees should know
The Medicare program notes that the premium glitch has been corrected. This means that “unless you told your plan you now want to pay your premiums a different way, your plan premiums will be taken out properly from your Social Security payments beginning in June or July 2019 through the rest of the year.”
As for premiums that you might still owe due to the glitch, you should know that:
- The Medicare program says that if you receive a bill from your Medicare plan, the plan must offer you a grace period to repay the missed premiums. The grace period must be at least as long as the billing delay.
- The nonprofit Medicare Rights Center notes that Medicare plans “also have the option not to pursue these outstanding payments” for premiums.
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