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Mistake could cost senior hundreds of dollars

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OKLAHOMA CITY - Michael Green went to see his doctor.

“And, they said ‘You're signed up with United Healthcare,'” Mike said. “We can't use your Medicare.”

Their records showed, instead of his traditional Medicare, Michael now had a private Medicare Advantage Plan for his health insurance.

“Right now, no one will accept my Medicare card,” he said.

Michael is still a Medicare beneficiary and even has extra supplement health insurance through Blue Cross and Blue Shield but, back in December, he said he mistakenly switched to United Healthcare's Medicare Advantage Plan.

“I saw an ad on TV, [and] I called in,” Mike said. “I said ‘I want information on your plan,’ and they explained it to me and this and that and the other."

Now, Michael owes United Healthcare over $400 in unpaid premiums.

He turned to us and the Oklahoma Insurance Department for help.

“We've spoken with United Healthcare,” said Medicare Divisional Director Ray Walker. “We've gotten Medicare involved, and they agree with what United is saying. They've got the recording that clearly states he understood what it was he was enrolling in.”

Walker said you can enroll for Medicare Advantage Plans online, by filling out a paper enrollment form or over the phone.  

“As long as they're recording that call and getting clear understanding: ‘This is the product that you purchased, and it will take effect on this date,’” he said. “That makes it possible for some people who may not have the mobility to go out and talk to an agent or mail in a form.”

  • Don't just renew your Medicare plan.
  • Medicare enrollees can save hundreds of dollars on premiums and out of pocket costs by reviewing their coverage during Medicare's open enrollment period. 

Michael prefers to keep his traditional Medicare coverage.

“It's driving me crazy,” he said. “I’m losing sleep over it.”

Even if Michael cancels his plan with United Healthcare, it looks like he's still on the hook for the unpaid premiums.

“Had [United Healthcare] not processed anything, had they not paid any claims on his behalf, frequently, we can work with the plan to do some sort of adjustment on behalf of the member,” Walker said. “But, now, they've processed some medical claims, which, I believe, are as much as the amount that he owes, so the business relationship has been established.”

Oklahoma Insurance Department's helpline for Medicare Enrollees: 1-800-763-2828 

  • Medicare Open Enrollment is from October 15 to December 7. 
  • During that period, the OID has someone manning their phone ready to answer questions 24 hours a day, and it’s completely free.

UPDATE:

The In Your Corner team got in touch with the Oklahoma Insurance Department, and now Green is no longer on the hook for the $400 in unpaid premiums to United Healthcare.

“United Healthcare has gone into their system, as well as Medicare has gone in and they have disenrolled Mr. Green back to January 1, 2016, so he will not owe any premiums for the entire year,” Ray Walker, Medicare Divisional Director with the Oklahoma Insurance Department, said. “Now for the claims they say were processed by United, United Healthcare will now go in and take back the payments from those providers."

When Green signed up for United's Medicare Advantage Health Plan, it essentially canceled out his traditional Medicare.

With Walker's help, Green's original coverage is active again.

“Thanks,” Mike said. “I’m glad to have gotten to the right guy.”

We encourage all Medicare enrollees, like Green, to review your coverage during open enrollment, because it could save you hundreds of dollars on premiums.