I disagree with the Aug. 31 editorial that describes the handling of Medicare and private health insurance paper work as a "terrible ordeal" for the old and advocates that the claims for both be filed by the doctor.
The editorial states the handling of bills and insurance forms is "a job for a CPA." I say the only qualification is to be able to read and write. Giving the task to doctors and hospital administrators (as has already been done with Medicare) rewards the lazy and adds to medical costs since the clerks in the doctors' offices and the hospitals who carry out this function must be paid.
I am in my seventies and have Medicare and private health insurance. My wife has only the latter. Recently we both underwent operations, and the claims were submitted or were supposed to have been submitted by the doctors and the hospitals. Following my operation, I waited several months without hearing from Medicare. I called Medicare and was told they were awaiting a "pre-authorization number" from the doctor that could not be forwarded by me but must be sent by the doctor. I notified the doctor's office of this, but still heard nothing from Medicare. I called Medicare two more times, received the same information on the missing number and passed it on to the doctor's office without result. I finally obtained Medicare's authority to send them the authorization number by mail and within two weeks I received my Medicare check. The problem, I was told had been that the doctor's office had been sending the number by computer and the Medicare computer was rejecting it. The whole procedure took nearly four months. If I had originally filed the claim, it would have taken half that time, and nobody would have had to pay me for my services.
In the case of my wife, the hospital lost the insurance information she had provided. The first bill arrived stating she had no insurance and should pay the whole amount. I notified the hospital by phone about the insurance. For more than six weeks the additional bills (pathology, x-ray, etc.) arrived similarly stating she had no insurance. Each time I called with the insurance information. This is not as simple as it sounds; the number at the billing office is usually busy. If you call early you can get through, but then the people are not at work yet. It would have been simpler and cheaper for the hospital, if I had filed the insurance claims. HENRY L. HEYMANN Washington