By fast, I mean faster than the five years (or longer) you might have to wait if you rely solely on snail mail to correspond with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) regarding the amount of its lien interest against your client’s civil injury recovery. I’ve seen articles and listserv posts discussing how to obtain Medicare’s lien amount much faster online, but last week was the first chance I had to try it.
Simple Is As Simple Does
Go to MyMedicare.gov, https://www.mymedicare.gov/, and select “Create an Account.” You will then be asked to provide your client’s Medicare number and other personal information. You should already have the basic information needed in your file, but you can also have the client available in person or by phone as you set up the account.
You will be asked to create a unique user name, answer a secret security question, provide the email address you want to use for correspondence, and choose a password between 8 and 16 characters.
Then you will receive a web screen confirmation that your client is registered for MyMedicare.com, as well as an immediate email confirmation. Your client will also receive a letter confirming the online account has been set up from CMS within 10-14 days.
Once you sign in to Medicare.gov using the client’s user name and password, click on the MSP tab at the far right of the screen, and then print the MSP detail for the conditional payment amount.
When It Works for Everybody Except You
Which would have been totally sweet, if the particular account I was checking on had not indicated that both the total conditional payment and total charges are still pending.
So then I decided to call MSPRC (which you think stands for Medicare Secondary Payer Recovery Contractor but really stands for Make Sure to Pee Right before Calling) number and dig my heels in to hold however long it took to get an answer. I was going to out-hold Medicare even if I had a potty accident while doing it. I was going to be the hero paralegal who got the magic lien number only accessible by the Pope or McGee from NCIS.
I was immediately advised the expected wait time was 54 minutes. Hah. An hour. I have the bladder of a blue whale, or maybe a puppy that hasn’t been potty-trained, I forget which. Actually, my bladder retention is directly related to the importance of what is going on that day. Court? Every 17 minutes. Reading a book on a beach? Every six hours.
Shortly thereafter, I was chirpily advised my place in the queue was 147. Then Medicare played muzak by some Yanni wannabe that sounded like a cat practicing yodeling, followed by creepy Twilight Zone music (the hairs on the back of my neck rose, and I almost bailed on the call at that point, which I think was Medicare’s intent). Occasionally a recorded voice message came on and made me jump in surprise. Midway through the call, I regretted the 36 oz big gulp sweat tea I had with lunch, but figured out it would be completely uncool to take the phone headset with me to the loo.
Then some lively River Dance music came on, and I hopped around the office on one leg like a half-crazed Michael Flatley groupie, mainly because I really, really had to pee, and not because I’m Lady of the Dance. The recorded voice, which seemed to be increasing in stridency, asked me every six minutes if I’d like to leave my name and number for a call back. Hells. No. I am not going to fall for that [again].
When I finally heard I was number 8, I tweeted my excitement:
I wish I could tell you the name of the no-nonsense, deliberate woman (think Stanley from The Office) who finally picked up my call after an hour, five minutes and 16 seconds, because it was better than anything Jeff Foxworthy could have made up for a redneck relative comedy routine (think Burdette, Raylene, or Jozelle but not), but I’m afraid she’s got herself on Google Alert, will see it here, and then wreak revenge by deleting the lien request she’s graciously processing in the next 10-14 days. We need that information sooner than five years.
Speeding Up Medicare Lien Resolution – Tips & Tricks (Lawyers.com)
Medicare – How to Get Updated Information (The California Litigator Newsletter Archive)