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Senior Cautionary Tales
Old 02-12-2014, 12:36 PM   #1
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Senior Cautionary Tales

Was going to use the title "Senior Scams" but that infers criminality. Most situations where seniors are at risk for losing money or overspending are not crimes. At that, though, the vendor or service provider often does not go out of the way to inform the (senior) customer of the savings that are readily available.
Posting this as a qualified senior... but with the idea that younger persons may have family members that are at risk.
Because there are so many stories to be told, I won't try to cover all here, but just a few to set the stage for other's to share their "warnings".

The first is the error of OMISSION... Failing to ask for a senior discount. No matter how old (I, me, we) look... chances of getting that discount automatically is IMHO... nil!. Methusalah would pay full price unless he made the request. From personal observation, virtually none of my friends and neighbors ASK for the discount, so every time they go out to eat, they pay an extra $2 to $3 on a 20 dollar meal for two. Same with retail stores. Gotta learn to say "I'm a Senior", or "do you have a senior discount?". That's not a scam but some folks avoid asking as a matter of vanity... (Gee... I don't look that old.) Many places offer discounts @ age 55.

Her's a particularly good one that happened to us yesterday. DW going in for colonoscopy and goes for the pre-procedure visit. We're old hands at this, and realize that we'll get a prescription for the ugly part of the prep...
a gallon of "Golytley" which used to cost about $7.
So the specialist doctor says she'll call in the prescription to our pharmacy, for us to pick up. We have an ongoing account, and usually just say charge it ... After we picked up the prescription, I looked at the receipt... figuring it would be under $10 after Medicare D paid. OMG... $72.50... after the $25 medicare discount (tier 3 medicine) Total cost was originally $95 + ....
Too late... after a prescription is filled at Walmart... no return is possible because of government regulations. (so we were told). The prescription was for "MoviPrep"... (Google for the outraged comments on this). Collusion between doctor and Pharmaceutical companies? Who's to say?.

Another similar pharmacy cost to avoid. One of the most common medications used for arthritis is Naproxen... sold as the Branded drug Aleve, in 220mg doses. The cost per dose varies and can be from $.20 to $.60+.
Our doctor (different doctor) prescribed the generic Naproxen... 500mg tablets... which comes under the $4 Walmart drug prices... We cut in half for 250mg...
Cost per dose... $.03.

The really scary stories come from older folks, living in their own home, who get caught by unscrupulous contractors. A neighbor who bought in our senior community aobut the same time we did (homes built in 2001) has a roofer who has been to her house for "loose shingles"... $125 each time... at least twice a year. On another thread... same neighbor with 2011 Lincoln has oil changes 4 times a year @ $100+ (with additional services) on a car with 2400 miles. No relatives to protect her.

Comcast "sold" network services to another neighbor... @$65mo... and she doesn't have a computer.

Service Contracts... enough said... $9/yr to protect a $59 Blu-Ray Player?

My take only, but I'm sure others have similar or worse tales to tell...
After yesterday's con on the "MoviPrep" I know I have a lot to learn...
Feel free to add on here.

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Old 02-12-2014, 12:53 PM   #2
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One prescription strategy I have heard about is to get your pharmacy's list of highly discounted, generic drugs often sold for as little as $4. Bring the list with you and ask the doctor if he can, in good faith, choose from this list compared to what he might normally prescribe.

The worst decisions are usually made in times of anger and impatience.
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Old 02-12-2014, 01:04 PM   #3
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Part D episode:

DW was being discharged from the hospital. She has COPD and was in for week with a chest infection. Her Dr., who knows we are on Medicare and Part D, prescribes an antibiotic so I head off to Walmart to pick it up....They hand me the package with 5 pills and say $165.00 please...STOP! Apparently, the med was not on the drug plan formulary. Call the Dr and he changes it.....$5 for the revised one.
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Old 02-12-2014, 01:21 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Chuckanut View Post
One prescription strategy I have heard about is to get your pharmacy's list of highly discounted, generic drugs often sold for as little as $4. Bring the list with you and ask the doctor is he can, in good faith, choose from this list compared to what he might normally prescribe.
I do this with BP medicine. I am still on Megacorps excellent prescription coverage, but the full price for buying this off the local grocery store pharmacy cheap prescription list is still a fraction of getting it via the required mail order maintenance drug program. I ask the Pharmacist to not even run the drug through my prescription plan when I get a refill, its that cheap, $4 for 30 day supply, $10 for 90 day supply! Checking against that list is excellent advice.
- Mike D.
If you don't do it this year, you will be one year older when you do. - Warren Miller
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Old 02-12-2014, 03:13 PM   #5
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Lots of senior scam stuff on the internet... The FBI list looks to be a pretty good one. Mostly things we've heard about, but a few that are new.
FBI €” Seniors

While these are real risks and can involve big dollars, one of the problems that I see with older people is the vulnerability that comes from being less mobile, and with little access to advice on the daily challenges that we all face on a daily basis.

One of the worst problems that I see on a regular basis, it the confusion that takes place with daily bills. In particular, medical bills. The time differential between the office visit, the procedure, and the follow ups, may cover a period of a month or two. Add to this the time for medicare , and then for medicare supplements, and the period of time for cross billing and payment can be extremely long. The doctors office, the hospital or clinic may be aggressive with follow-up, and the coding on the bills can be daunting.

We often trust... trust too much... that when a bill is overpaid, the facility will catch it, and return your money.
Advice here.... Trust, but verify.
Personal experiences...
1. I found that after a six month period, when I questioned a bill that I didn't understand, my well regarded local hospital, had received an overpayment, but that instead of refunding, it was being "held" in a holding account, to be applied to future bills. Not a mistake... an accepted process.
2. Some years back, in the mid 2000's, I was a volunteer caregiver for some neighbors with some of the normal slowdown of abilities that accompanies aging. In one case, a widow whose husband had passed away the year befor, who was being hounded for over 100K in bills... having to do with his terminal hospitaliztion. As she was living on SS... about $1200/mo. she was paying the bills with food money and gradually dying from worry and illhealth. It took a few days to straighten out the paper work, and to apply for relief through the local elderly services.
3. She had no close relatives, so the problem was not the same as another neighbor, who lived in our Florida community. As I worked to help him, I found that he had the so many problems with overbilling that he suffered deep depression. To keep his sanity, his son actually paid over $150,000 to keep the credit services away. I was able to fight and get back about $20,000 but there this was only a part of the overbilling.

I don't have an answer to this, except to warn those with aging parents to try to keep an eye on these bills. We geezers are resistant to help, but there does come a time when it's needed.

A big opening to a pay-for-service bonded financial caregiver industry. Nothing that I can see in this area, as any of the financial advisors won't look at the "advisory" part...

As we can see problems in our own future re: handling the day to day finances, we plan to have a family council to go over our finances and the
"continued care" part. Not ready yet, but can see it coming... Tough to swallow, but preferable to mental anguish. The kids having an investment in a hoped for inheritance may help smooth the process.
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Old 02-12-2014, 03:29 PM   #6
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As you discuss above, medical billing under Medicare and the associated hospitals is becoming a nightmare. And the mess is escalating.

Last year, I had a over application of my annual deductible applied by a doctor's billing service and my medigap insurance provider stop processing claims. I was notified by mail that an over application of $20 was applied to the annual amount, which had previously been met. It took me 4 months to get this resolved. No one seemed to want to help. The doctor's billing service was in India and I could not get them to respond.

Two weeks ago, my wife got a $10,000+ bill from a local hospital that Medicare denied. It was related to her last visit 8 months ago which was for a few days. Apparently, the hospital did not actually finish the paperwork to officially admit her! But they sure treated her while she was in the private room!

We are still figuring that one out. Medicare says go see the hospital administration staff to see if they can clear up their coding error.

What really burns my @$$ is that you pay all these premiums (Medicare B, Medigap, Part D) and no one wants to help you if there is a problem.
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Old 02-12-2014, 05:03 PM   #7
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A thead near and dear to my heart. So many mistakes occur every day. If your not watching out for yourself, the computers don't care.

When DM was 90, medicare quit paying her bills. According to their records, she was me. Employed by the Megacorp I worked for, had company benefits.

DF called me, he was at his wits end; getting pestered for bills, medicare not caring.
A quick call to HR, a week later it was fixed.

My belief is some folks would have paid, just because they didn't understand or got tired of fighting.
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Always count
Old 02-12-2014, 05:18 PM   #8
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Always count

My wife used to be a bank teller. She has taught me to always re-count the money you get from the teller yourself. The tellers seem to be miffed that I don't trust them, but I count anyway. Once you pull away from the drive-through, it is difficult to dispute how much money was in that little envelope--it becomes your word against theirs until they re-balance their drawer at the end of the day.

Of course, the one time last week I didn't look at the receipt for a simple deposit, the bank missed a $300 check that was part of the deposit. Oh, did I hear about that oversight. Always count, and always check the receipt... or my wife will let you know about it!

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