Saturday, May 03, 2014
"I'm passing around a petition to get Medicare for us in Mexico."
It was my expatriate pal Doug. "Just sign it. I don't want to talk about it."
Well, I didn't sign it, and we did talk about it. One aspect of Mexico's medical system is the lack of bureaucracy and paper -- the Geminis of big organizations.
I don't need an appointment to see my doctor. With very few exceptions, I can get my prescription simply by bringing in the empty box. And I don't need to calculate what my co-pay is going to be on any given visit. I pay the full amount -- often less than what the co-pay would be in The States.
Doug's request reminded me of an experience earlier in the week.
I don't have health insurance in Mexico. That is not entirely true. I have access to my military medical insurance -- as long as I pay the Medicare B premium. So, each month, Uncle Obama keeps $149 out of what he would otherwise pay me for reaching the age of 65 above ground.
You are probably wondering why I pay the Medicare premium if I do not receive Medicare benefits in Mexico. I often ask myself that question. But, if I do not pay it, the military insurance will not reimburse me for my out-of-pocket expenses -- about 75%. I call it my catastrophic insurance plan, even though the Obamacare officials do not smile kindly on that form of insurance.
I thought it was a good deal. $150 a month just in case some of the crocodiles in my DNA pool rear their ugly heads. And with my prescriptions now costing me just over $200 a month, I thought I would avail myself of a reimbursement.
Remember what I said about Mexico being very light on its bureaucracy when it comes to medicine? Well, I know the federal government considers that type of informality to be just short of original sin. So, I requested a prescriptions from my doctor listing the drug, the diagnosis requiring the drug, and the dates of service. I then attached six months of pharmacy receipts itemizing the drug, the purchase price, and the date.
Last Tuesday I mailed the package off to the government unit in Wisconsin that handles these matters -- feeling rather smug that a check for several hundred dollars would be heading my way.
Somehow, I neglected to read the instructions. Here is the very helpful information that my government has relayed to me in getting drug reimbursements.
"Prescription claims require the name of the patient; the name, strength, date filled, days supply, quantity dispensed, and price of each drug; NDC for each drug if available; the prescription number of each drug; the name and address of the pharmacy; and the name and address of the prescribing physician. Billing statements showing only total charges, or canceled checks, or cash register and similar type receipts are not acceptable as itemized statements, unless the receipt provides detailed information required above."
If I had been requested to put together a list of requirements that have never existed in one place at the same time in Mexico, I would have been hard pressed to come up with a list better than that one. "Cash register receipts are not acceptable as itemized statements." Even if it is the only type of receipt given to customers in Mexico?
My dreams of receiving any check went into the same bucket where I store the delusion that tax rate increases will improve the economy.
You can picture the conversation I had with Doug. If we are unlucky enough to have Medicare inflicted on the Mexican medical system, you can just imagine the books of similar regulations that will plague doctors and pharmacists. What was once a simple system where consumers were the primary concern, bureaucrats will rule.
Doug walked away muttering with a blank space where he envisioned my signature. I just may start a petition of my own for people who simply want to be left alone.
Even if it is simply my name on the petition. But, I guess that is how it should be.