I’m married to a solo-practicing primary care physician. I know, a dying breed, but he likes being his own boss. Like most primary care physicians, most of his patients are on Medicare. We’ve had as many as three people working for us over the years and now we have one full-time and one part-time person working for us. In February, we moved to a smaller office to prepare for what might be coming. We figured, anywhere we could save money, would help us weather whatever was coming with Obamacare. We moved from Suite 230 to Suite 170 of the same building. You would think that would be a simple and straightforward move for Medicare. It wasn’t.
You expect in any business to have a hassle when you move. Insurance companies and the government won’t forward payments and that’s reasonable. You fill out a change of address with each company and government agency and have a little diversion for a couple of weeks. That was true for every payer except for Medicare. He was required to fill out paperwork as if he was a new physician and submit it for approval. They had to approve his address. During that process, checks are held until the address is approved and the checks can be released.
We are now 10 weeks down the road in this move and have not gotten one Medicare payment. Supplemental (the second payer) and other insurance companies are paying us, but Medicare hasn’t approved our move yet. The supplemental insurance part is important because that means Medicare approved the payment and sent the information to the supplemental insurer. They just haven’t approved our new address to send us the initial payment.
Yesterday, I had a wonderful ride through our system. First, we called Medicare and were told we weren’t in the system. Then, we were told that our new address had been “approved” but they had no idea when our payments would restart. When I asked to speak to a supervisor, I was told the supervisor was not on site and would have to be emailed and the supervisor would call us. As of close of business yesterday, no supervisor has called.
Right now, I don’t have a congressman, so I called Sen. Saxby Chambliss’ office to get some help. Their response was to send us a “privacy” form requesting every identifying number my husband has—from his DEA number, to his physician identification number, to his Social Security number and date of birth. I understand giving permission for the office to contact Medicare on our behalf, but that only requires a signature and our case number with Medicare. I don’t blame the senator; I blame the HIPPA rules that have destroyed the relationship between provider and patient.
The point is, my husband, a practicing physician for 23 years, has gone without payment for 10 weeks from the largest source of his income. On Thursday, he’s going to be required to pay estimated taxes based on last year. So in essence, we are waiting on payment from the government to make a payment to the government.
Don’t forget, these are the guys who are going to run our health care system and make it more efficient. I don’t think so.
This is what is happening today. What will happen when Obamacare is really implemented? Let’s fix what we have, before we add to it. Does that sound so out of whack to you? Actually, that is what you, the American people, are saying. Reset and let’s start over.
Primary care physicians touch every dollar they make. They spend the time with the patient and when that patient leaves they have the expectation that the doctor is going to be paid. And they will get paid eventually. If it is this slow now, how slow will it be when the Baby Boomers are in the system or when Obamacare is in full force. Medicare is the government health care system of today. Think about it.
Martha Zoller is a political analyst and conservative talk show host for WXKT FM 103.7 in Gainesville, Georgia and syndicated on The Georgia News Network. She is one of the Talkers Magazine “Heavy Hundred” Talk Shows in America. She can be seen regularly on cable news. She is the author of “Indivisible: Uniting Values for a Divided America.” E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.