Skip to main content

MEDICARE LETTER TO AMERICAN EXPATS, JANUARY, 2019: WHAT TO DO

If you are an American living in France, and if your address with Social Security and Medicare is a French address, you may have recently received a letter advising you that you were going to be issued a new Medicare card. It seems they've decided that having our Social Security numbers on the cards was inappropriate, a potential breech of security. So new cards were being mailed.

Except, of course, new cards would not be mailed to addresses outside of the United States.

Never fear. If you have an account at MyMedicare.gov, you can print an official copy of your card and use it until you are in a position to obtain a new one. If you don't have an account, you can create one. There was another workaround, something about calling Medicare from a mobile phone from within the United States. But since we have no plans to go back to the States in the immediate future, my only ready option was to create that account on MyMedicare.gov.

Except, of course, that I wasn't allowed create an account. Error message. Why? I guessed that it was because off the foreign postal code. That guess turned out to be correct. How do I know? Because, believe it or not, MyMedicare.gov has a 24/7 Chat function. I waited less that a minute. Zach was very clear. That's right. You can't create an account with a foreign address attached. If you already have an account, you can access it from anywhere. But if your address with Social Security is foreign, you are out of luck.

I asked Zach to describe my Catch-22 plight to his supervisor. He said that he would. I asked how to make a formal complaint to Medicare. He advised me to call them directly: 1-800-MEDICARE. Guess what. Available 24/7.

I called. I explained my situation. The agent advised my that they were aware of the problem and were working on it. I asked what I should do in the interim. The answer? Identify yourself to me satisfactorily and I will send you a letter certifying that you are covered that you will receive in ten days. After four weeks, you'll get your new card in the mail.

Who knew that single-payer healthcare could be so efficient?


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

FRENCH VISA AND HEALTH INSURANCE FOR AMERICANS

The most expensive item in an American family's budget may be health insurance. But many Americans have no understanding of the true cost of their insurance because it's included in their employment package. Folks simply don't think about how much their employer may be reducing their salaries when factoring in insurance costs.

Before I retired, my employer paid for my health insurance but I had to pay to insure my wife. The cost, taken out of my every paycheck, came to about $6,000 annually. And even with insurance, there were co-pays and other out of pocket expenses. We were reasonably healthy (and still are, knock wood), but we each take a few common prescription medications - for blood pressure and cholesterol and the like, nothing exotic or costly. Even so, with regular visits to the doctor, periodic lab work, the drugs, and the occasional illness or injury, we normally spent an additional several thousand dollars annually in the States over and above the cost of the i…

CHÉ OLIVE / LE ZINC, CREISSAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

No, it's not Chez Olive. It is indeed Ché complete with red star and black beret. I have no idea why and I wasn't about to ask. The French are the French and not to be analyzed too closely when it comes to politics, especially these days.

Creissan is the next town over from our village of Quarante. We pass through it often and Ché Olive is right there on the main road at the entrance to town. (One of the signs still says Le Zinc. Olive says he prefers Ché Olive though.) Olive opened it a couple of years ago after leaving the Bar 40, Quarante's basic local watering hole that's undergone a bit of a renaissance lately. We hadn't heard much about Ché Olive from our usual sources for dining recommendations. So we just kept passing by. For reasons not central to this review, we decided to stop in for lunch on a mid-week in late December.

The bar is cozy, the restaurant open and bright and modern. Newly renovated and perhaps a bit sterile. We were the first…

RESTAURANT ETIQUETTE IN FRANCE: SIMPLE PRIMER (WITH TONGUE IN MY AMERICAN CHEEK)

My recent reading of a poor internet review of a favorite restaurant of ours prompted this post. Some people simply should not be allowed internet access. Speech may rightly be free, but it shouldn't be worthless.

From reading the review, I could determine that the reviewer was a tourist who started out in a bad mood because he had to pay extra for parking a camper van that exceeded the maximum height for parking in the free lot. His party arrived at the restaurant at the end of lunch and without a reservation. At first, he was told that an empty table that he pointed out was reserved. When he persisted, he was informed that lunch was over. Since none of the other restaurants in town were still open, the reviewer had to miss lunch.

Let me count the ways...

RESERVATIONS ARE NECESSARY. Maybe not at Burger King, maybe not in a touristy restaurant in a touristy destination. But if you are really hungry, if you really want to try that restaurant that everybody's talking about, or …