By Jerry Zezima
Hearst Connecticut Media Group
When it comes to being stuck, there are two kinds of tape: red and Scotch. The first is what you are wrapped up in when applying for Medicare Part B. The second is what you drink when you can’t unravel yourself from the first.
I needed copious amounts of the latter — for medicinal purposes, of course — after my maddeningly unsuccessful efforts to get a Part B card had me seeing red.
And Part B doesn’t cover vision, which is a whole other problem.
According to Social Security, through which I had to apply, causing me insecurity, Medicare Part B covers physician services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and certain other medical and health services not covered by Medicare Part A.
Naturally, there is a hefty cover charge even though you still need supplemental insurance for things not covered by Part B (see: Scotch, above).
I applied in September after the retirement of my wife, Sue, whose insurance at work covered me until she didn’t work anymore and left me uncovered, something you don’t want to happen if the weather is chilly or there are cops around.
Sue got her Part B card right away. My card, which I figured was the 7 of clubs, never came.
So I called Social Security and spoke with a friendly guy named Todd.
“Part B or not Part B — that is the question,” I said when, after being on hold for a period longer than the Super Bowl halftime show, I was finally connected to Todd.
“I hate to say this,” he said, and proceeded to say it anyway, “but it’s the government.”
“My tax dollars at work,” I said. “Or maybe my tax dollars don’t work and are retired, like me.”
“It sounds stupid,” Todd acknowledged, “but that’s red tape for you.”
“Don’t you have any green or blue tape?” I wondered.
“No, it’s always red,” said Todd, adding: “You were about to get a denial letter.”
“Then I would have been in denial,” I responded, resisting the old joke about denial being a river in Africa.
“It’s a good thing you called,” Todd said.
“When was I supposed to find this out?” I asked.
“When you called,” replied Todd, noting that I would need another 564 form, which would require a 561 form and two 40B forms, all of which would form in the empty atmosphere of my skull to give me a gargantuan headache.
“This is a pain in the neck,” I said, though I actually referred to a lower anatomical region. “Would it be covered?”
“I don’t know if chiropractors are on the list,” replied Todd, who said he’d be happy to help me get the whole mess straightened out.
“I already have Medicare Part A,” I said.
“I handle A and B,” said Todd, “but there’s also C, which is supplemental, and D, for drugs.”
“Can I use the drugs to get rid of my headache?” I asked.
“Yes,” Todd answered, adding that there also are Parts E, F and G.
“Do I have to buy a vowel like on ‘Wheel of Fortune’?” I wanted to know.
“You might,” said Todd, who’s 37 and nowhere near retirement. “If I didn’t work here,” he admitted, saying he had trained for months, “I’d be totally lost, too.”
Todd also admitted that his 9-year-old son is more tech-savvy than he is.
“He has his own iPad,” Todd said.
“I don’t have an iPad or an iPod,” I said, “but I do have iTeeth. Would they be covered under the dental plan?”
“I hope so,” said Todd, who got me processed and promised that my Part B card would soon be delivered.
“Until then, I’ll go with Part S,” I said. “It stands for Scotch.”
Copyright 2020 by Jerry Zezima