Okay, background: Flar is on Medicare because he is a kidney patient -- home dialysis is an automatic qualifier. We didn't find out it had started last year until they were billing for third quarter, so we had this big bill to pay off just as finances were getting awful. We finally caught up when I got to pay bills after the Really Big Deal™ funded a few weeks ago. That check was mailed on April 1, and I figured I would pay the bill for the second quarter in May, a month late.
We got two letters in the mail, one dated April 1, telling us coverage was terminated due to non payment, and then the next day we got a second notice billing for the second quarter.
First I called Matt's social worker at the dialysis clinic. She recommended to ignore the termination letter and pay the bill. She also gave me a phone number to call to inquire about payment by phone. It was for social security, and they also told me to go ahead and pay the bill, but gave me a direct Medicare number to inquire about payment by phone.
So here's the Good:
(Once I got through the irritating "Voice Recognition" voice menu to speak to a real person,) I told the story of the two letters to the woman who handled my call. I told her that I wanted verification that I could just pay the bill, but that if I could ask for the moon, I'd like to pay our bill monthly automatically from our checking account. Well, she gave me the moon. Yes, I can pay the current bill. And she would mail me the application form for direct payment, and the way it would work was that we would continue to be direct billed, but eventually the bills would be statements and include the phrase "This is not a bill" on them, and then we would know we were successfully enrolled.
I was frustrated by the voice recognition menu because it kept reacting to background noises in the house: barking dogs, etc. But I was really pleased by the conversation. She was not merely polite, but friendly and very helpful.
So sometimes you can ask for the moon, and even get it. :)