The National Public Radio (NPR) reported that around 250,000 Medicare-covered seniors may be billed by Medicare for a five-month lapse in premium payments. This is due to a ‘processing error’ on the part of the Social Security Administration (SSA) that occurred in January.
According to the SSA’s frequently asked questions page, the error resulted in their systems failing to subtract payments from thousands of senior’s Social Security checks. This means that affected beneficiaries unknowingly have not been making payments towards their coverage policies. This includes private drug coverages and Medicare Advantage plans.
Concerned individuals might find that they have five months’ worth of outstanding premiums. By law, insurance providers such as government-run policy provider are mandated to directly send billing statements to clients for their failure to pay.
Meanwhile, others can discover their insurance plans have been cancelled. This is the case with two Louisiana seniors whose drug policies were cancelled as a direct result of the SSA blunder.
SSA and Medicare estimate that the problem will be fixed by this month of in July. Beneficiaries can expect the resumption of payments once the issue is over.
However, the NPR notes that there is no clear information with regards to the source of the error. No precise number of affected individuals was released. Moreover, the two agencies did not specify which plans were involved.
The Ways and Means Committee headed by Rep. Richard Neal reached out to the two parties. They have yet to receive a response from the insurance provider. On the other hand, SSA mostly directed questions to Medicare.
Organizations that aim to assist seniors are also getting queries from insured seniors. One advocacy group expressed worries about the issue. According to the group, some affected individuals who receive bills might be wary of the statements, as they think that they are paying their premiums.