What You Need to Know
- An NAIC staff member briefed the Senior Issues Task Force on the problems during a recent conference call meeting.
- Applicants can download applications from the web.
- Applicants must mail in the completed applications or drop them off at Social Security field offices.
Some new Medicare enrollees are having trouble getting Medicare cards in a timely manner.
A member of the staff of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners briefed members of the association’s Senior Issues Task Force on the problem last week, during an online meeting.
For financial professionals who help older or disabled clients with Medicare plans, the card access issue could create new opportunities to rescue those clients from Medicare hassles.
The problem appears to be due mainly to longer U.S. Postal Service delivery times, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices, and some older people’s difficulties with using the web to get and print government forms, according to a summary of the briefing posted on the task force section of the NAIC website.
The NAIC is a Kansas City, Missouri–based group for insurance regulators. The Senior Issues Task Force handles matters involving topics such as Medicare, State Health Insurance Assistance Programs and long-term care insurance. The current task force chair is Marlene Caride, the New Jersey banking and insurance commissioner.
How Medicare Applications Worked
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the federal agency that oversees Medicare, but SSA processes the applications.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, workers in the 1,230 SSA field offices helped many people who reached age 65, became disabled or suffered from severe kidney disease fill out and submit their Medicare applications.
Now, according to the NAIC briefing summary, many SSA field offices are still closed.
Consumers can download Medicare applications from the web, but many are not comfortable with doing that, and those consumers get their applications by calling SSA and having SSA mail them applications.