I have not been a regular contributor to my blog, the brandmanspeaks for quite some time.
Having become a primary care-giver for an elderly parent has taken a great deal of time, especially time away from staying on top of the marketing issues of the day and the consuming world around us.
I am compelled today to return to this blog primarily because one of the biggest brand problems I see facing Americans today is the brand "Medicare".
Congress and the White House have been trying to figure out how to deal with Medicare given the explosive costs of providing care to older Americans. Some of the issues are due to enormous increases in the cost of hospital and doctor care, more Americans living longer and needing the financial support of Medicare and Medicare fraud which is growing rapidly.
Another issue, and one that is NEVER talked about but is a cancer within the Medicare system is its staffing issues. Duplication and incompetence seem to run rampant in the Medicare system and no one in government is paying attention to this internal crisis.
On several occasions upon reviewing Medicare billing summaries concerning my mother's care I have found examples of what appear to be doctor overcharges and charges for services NOT rendered. The amounts tend to be small, so unless you are really studying the summaries the way I do, you would likely miss these erroneous payments. Fraud is a strong word, but charging more for services than the cost of services provided and/or charging for services NOT provided seems like fraud to me.
The problem is not only the fraudulent charges but also the difficulty trying to right this wrong when you contact Medicare.
The first time I contacted Medicare's fraud hotline the man on the phone gave me five reasons he wouldn't take my information and three other places to call, despite the fact that the number on my mother's billing to report fraud was the number he was handling. He expressed NO interest in the fraud inquiry and the places he sent me were equally uninterested. I gave up the first time.
The second time I was more incensed when the same doctor got paid for a in office visit when my mother no longer was seeing him professionally. I called went through a long process talking to six different people and was told something would be done about it, but that there was NO follow up back to me to let me know if the case was handled. Not too reassuring. But I hoped for the best.
Today, I called Medicare's fraud hotline again after finding that same doctor charged for more services NOT rendered. Services he could not provide since he hadn't seen my mother in six months, (since we fired him). I got bounced around to four different Medicare representatives who all said they were taking copious notes during my call, yet not one could handle the matter and kept passing me along.
When I finally got to the Level 2 claims agent, Barbara, I introduced myself and then my call was disconnected. This after 45 minutes on the phone. I called back into the system and had to start again with another entry level agent who said there were NO NOTES from any of my previous conversations and I would have to start the process all over again. I hung up in frustration.
Washington will not be able to make improvements to the Medicare (brand) system until they purge the organization itself. Until that time, doctors will be able to abuse the system with ease given the difficulty of reporting Medicare fraud as the process now stands.
A win for the bad guys.
Watching out for you everyday.