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I am aghast, my mom died in June, and I have been getting lots of bills from her various doctors. Until this week, I was able to log onto mom's "my medicare.gov" account, and see which claims had been submitted, which were paid, how much she might owe, etc. This was always very helpful for me to watch over her medical bills.
Well, today I got a big surprise. They have deactivated her account! I thought maybe I had wrong password, so I dug around into how to reset and ended up on a chat session with medicare. The chat person told me, once they are notified of a death, that person's online access is PERMANENTLY de-activated!!
The only way for me to find out about her unpaid bills, now, is to wait for a bill from doctors or hospital or ambulance vendors. This is very inconvenient.
The medicare chat person said, this is all because of the HIPAA law, and there is absolutely no way around it. They also said I can call the 800 number with my questions about specific bills.....but that is not quite the same as being able to see a complete list of what is in process, what is going to be billed.
I am really wondering why this has to be this way. Has anyone else had the same experience?

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SamlamW That must be the town where I live
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Yes Mallory - that thought ran through my mind as well. Especially because elderly folks have a tendency to be afraid of Collections and assume that 'bills should be paid'. I think some of it is mind-set that comes with years of dealing with bureaucratic bs and losing. They're also afraid of angering their physicians. :/ I recently ran into (what I consider) a horrific situation. I found that a retired couple in Northern CA knew that their doctor was fraudulently billing Medicare for services that had not been performed. When they asked about it - the office told them that the reimbursement level for M/C is so low that the office has to bill for extra services to be decently compensated. They were afraid to say anything for fear of losing their doctor in an area (retired community) where there is already a shortage of doctors.
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Well, I was shocked to get his last SS check. I am told they will put a request for that payment to be reversed. That could cause problems if you have written checks. I think it is heartless of the government to not pay the check to a person who died in the last 5 days of the month. I could see it if they died within the first 5 days of the month. Good Lord, what I am going through now.

Now I am told, the one son and stepdaughter may contest the Will. GREAT. Their father would be furious. That will cost me. When they called me a day after he passed and asked for the Will, I knew they had no concern except for money from their dad. Even though they will not get it, if they have a good attorney they can freeze my bank accounts. That is all I needed today. I picked up his ashes today. That is difficult. But, I also had some of his curly hair cut and put in a heart shaped wooded box. And I have a key chain item to add to my keys with his ashes in that item. I feel so loved just having these things. He was a remarkable handsome strong German man. I was such a lucky and Blessed women. There are a lot of surprises out there you all have to face when your loved one passes. Mostly the government who wants a good chunk. I am hating or government at this point.
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Well I found 3 bills of my mom's where they either had not billed Medicare, or they hadn't billed the supplemental insurance, and its really so annoying that they mess up the bills! ! I bet there are lots of seniors out there who don't even notice the bills weren't processed correctly and maybe they just pay it, when they didn't have to.
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Yes, I had problem with billing, actually went to collections and it was their error. Told the collector I paid what the statement said. She told me to read my medicare statement. I did, the provider posted payment wrong. TG I worked collections and figured out what the did.
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No phone#? It's because they know they're messed up and don't want people calling them. This has gotten so bad around the country that the 3 major credit reporting agencies recently accepted a new policy whereby they won't let medical billings affect credit ratings! What does THAT tell you? :) Last year (I've been handling mom's EOB's during the caregiving years) one of the non-cooperative providers sent a bill to Collections.

I was a little amused that there was no verbage on the Notice indicating a Right to Contest. But I simply enclosed a copy of the previous correspondence to the provider along with a notation that I was Contesting the amount owed, within 30 days as stipulated by law, because the provider did not bill the secondary insurance.

It's sad how complicated things have become. I actually picked up a few Certified Mail stickers from the post office so I could have them at the ready.
When someone has to sign for something - it gets their attention.
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Yeah, I am in for a LONG wait. I just got another bill from a provider, Medicare had paid their bit, but nothing else appeared after that. I tried to call the provider---they have no phone number!!! just a place to mail your payment.
So I googled them, got a Contact Me form (still NO PHONE) for their corporate office and filled that out. Then I waited over the weekend for a reply....today I do get a reply, "Thank you for Contacting us...." and a few hours later, a Real Person emails me, I need more details. Still No Phone. I email all the details and ask for a phone, please. a few hours more, and they email me back, you have to call so & so at this number, and give all your details all over again.
What ever happened to the days when we could just call a number, and they could pull up the account on the screen, and tell us a straight answer, even if we were on hold for 10 mins, that is a lot quicker than this having to google them, fill out a Contact Me form, wade thru several emails before a Real Person replies, and then get shifted over to another office altogether?
Why not just put a phone number on the bill!!! It's because of all the budget cuts, they don't want anyone to bother them with phone calls. Just crank out paper bills and hope nobody has a question.
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Oh Mallory - Medicare has its rules and it's up to us to live with them. Mom passed in May and I know what you're going through. All the providers have their own unique little billing systems in their own hieroglyphics, but if Medicare has been billed - the invoices should indicate the Medicare payment (Adjustment). Some providers start spitting out bills to the family at the same time they bill MC.
I had gotten to the point where I waited for the 60 day reminder bills before even considering them for review.

Try not to stress over it. Unfortunately, MC only sends out paper EOB's on a quarterly basis - so you'll have a wait. I particularly loved the one that came last Christmas; 30 pages to sort thru and match up with bills.

My problem has been that MC doesn't always forward the bill to the secondary insurance like they're supposed to. Then I get a bill for the balance. I have to send it back with a copy of the death cert along with a copy of her secondary insurance info and a note scribbled on the invoice asking them to bill the secondary. And just when you think you've got it handled, a provider changes billing services and they start spitting out old bills because the cvs file in the system didn't carry over the data correctly - It's a mess. Hang in there.
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I guess they don't consider a family member maybe paying bills. I get a statement from Medicare telling me what they paid. Then I get statements from my supplemental showing what medicare paid and what the supplemental paid showing a balance I maybe billed for. These both come before the doctor bill. I then matchup to make sure the totals match. The only prroblem I've had is when the doctor's office has applied my payment wrong. Since I worked accts receivable I can usually figure out what they did. I guess when ur used to one way its hard to change.
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I'm sorry people have to lose their SS or VA benefits....but that discussion might be better to pose as an entirely new Question(s)? my concern in my original Topic was why Medicare ONLINE records all of a sudden disappear. Makes it harder (well, different, is maybe all) to match up the payments etc. I have gotten 3 bills this week from doctors/labs/etc and not all of them in the same billing format, so I can't always tell if they ever billed Medicare in the first place. I would rather simply go online to Medicare online and SEE if they were billed. But now that mom's account there has disappeared, I have to call each doctor/lab/etc during their business hours (and not over their lunch hour) and sit on hold, explain it all.....grrr....it is so much easier to just be able to SEE it on my screen.
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Oregongirl: One way to do that is to put the estate in a trust. My brother, an atty., had done that years before our mother deceased. This makes it much easier when the deceadant passes because it eliminates the probate process.
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JoAnn, Sad isn't it? The VA is reconsidering this issue, far to late for me. My husband was disabled aboard the ship during battle. He received monthly benefits. But the doctor (who I did not know), said my husband died from COPD. Even tho I proved he did not have COPD, the VA would not change their ruling. I had our doctor write a letter and it stated that my husband died prematurely from his war injuries....VA refused to resolve in my favor. This Country does not take care of the Veterans, why should we think they would take care of the widows... By the way as a side note...The doctor who made the mistake has had his license revoked in Oregon. He was under investigation when he signed my husband's death certificate.
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I thought I left this message. If so, sorry if not...
Funeral homes are under obligation to report a death to SS and in turn Medicare to prevent fraud. When a spouse dies, the lowest of the two SS payments is dropped. In my case, if DH dies before me my $800 will drop and I will get his 1500. If I die before him, he loses my SS. Miltary benefits? My SIL, husband in Air Force 20yrs, told me she is not entitled to his pension. Her explanation, he was in the service, not her. I guess that would include any benefits he had?
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#Oregongirl that's outrageous,whatgavee them to notify Medicare?idk why you can't get his ss unless it's hopeless appeal it.
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I never go on-line. Just wait till my supplemental report comes in. Shows what Medicare paid and what they did. Usually ends up matching. Never pay a doctor bill until I get his bill.
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Yes when my husband died, the funeral home notified Medicare. I was furious. I lost his ss and his navy benefit. I also lost my home. Now I have come back financially but, you really have to be ready to adjust once your loved ones income no longer is available and there are bills to pay. Funerals cost SO MUCH. We even used a very inexpensive casket at my husband wishes. My Partner is being cremated. (I don't believe in cremation, but it is so much less money) My partner bought his plan years ago.
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Malloryg8r: Since mom just passed in June, it is quite likely that all the bills haven't come through for payment yet. Bothersome, I know!
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Mallory - yep and it can get quite maddening. CMS should continue to send out the snail-mail billing statements for about 2 - 4 months to whatever address they were going to. The CMS ones are the listing of service provided with the vendor and then the info on payment with % details. I got them for 3 mos after mom died.

Now are you doing probate? If so, then once you get Letters Testamentary issued (and get like a dz at least of these at the initial request and they should be cheap too) you can mail a letter to the vendors a request for billing with the LT that shows you as executrix and request all billing and invoices sent to you as a debt of mom's estate. Or you / your attorney file a Notice To Creditors and then only deal with those who file a claim to probate court to be paid; most won't btw.

I will suggest this, you want to wait before you start paying any bills. There well could be bills sent that are not accurate. I've gotten a few bottom-feeder letters that appear to be debts but are not…what they are "service contracts" which imply a debt is due to start or renew the service…they are somewhat smallish like $ 85 for pest control or $ 150 for AC/Heat contract and it's just for the contract with no actual work done, pretty good scam. Your mom still had her home right? If so you will likely get oodles of letters for "as is" cash offers on the house (a couple might come to the house too so tell the neighbors to be on the alert). One of these sent over a yard maintenance guy to do an estimate too, I parked behind his truck, told him I had called the police and had a concealed carry license (fibs but so worth saying) so he was trapped & couldn't get out till he told me the backstory…..which was he does an full scale landscaping estimate and then the "as is" buyer deducts his estimate from whatever "offer" he told you over the phone. Scam.
Really once they die and word is out, all sorts of low-lifes hit on the estate. Be on your guard. Between the obit notice and SS info being easily available, it's beyond easy to get info on your mom.
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