As financial planners we are always stressing the importance of a complete estate plan. This goes beyond just having a will. You'll also need a power of attorney for financial affairs and healthcare, if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. In some cases, a trust is another key component. But, if you're on Medicare, the government requires an additional form to provide information about your coverage to others.
What is this Medicare form?
The form is called the 1-800-MEDICARE Authorization to Disclose Personal Health Information. The purpose of this form is for you to allow someone other than you to call and get information about your Medicare coverage, payment details, and other information. Without this form if someone other than you tries to call and get information, even if you want them to, they will be denied by Medicare.
What information can be provided?
On the application you will select what sort of information can be provided to the designated individual(s). This can include things such as: information about Medicare eligibility, claims history, plan enrollment information, premium payment details, etc. You will also select how long this authorization will last for. It can be a permanent authorization, or you can allow it for a set period of time. Of course, if you wish to revoke this privilege you can do so at any time by writing in to Medicare.
I already have a POA, isn't that enough?
Yes and no. If Medicare does not have this particular form, they will not be able to provide any information to your power of attorney. However, this form can be submitted by your power of attorney if they include the appropriate legal documents proving that, and then signing on your behalf. While it is relieving that a POA can still act if you are unable to, it's still best to be proactive.
If you're in a situation where you are unable to sign documents, there is a good chance that decisions about your health and information needs to be provided quickly. Although a POA can submit the form for you, it will take time to be processed, and during that they will be unable to get details about your Medicare information. While the POA will allow them to make medical decisions on your behalf, they may not be able to get necessary details about billing and coverage which may be essential to keep your Medicare policy in place.
How do you submit the form?
At this point in time the form can only be submitted via mail, there is no fax or electronic means to return it. This of course will increase the time before the form is processed. It's best to be proactive and get that application in as soon as possible, especially right now.
During the current pandemic, those who are older, and likely on Medicare, are more at risk of becoming seriously ill. Having all the appropriate documents in place, including this additional Medicare form, is crucial to allowing your representative to have all the necessary information to act on your behalf. Also, during these turbulent times we are experiencing delays in the mail. This may lead to additional time before your paperwork arrives for processing adding another delay when a representative needs information most.
We hope that because of these headwinds that Medicare will expand their capabilities to accept this form, but as of this posting, the only allowable method of submission is through the mail. So, if you didn't submit this form when initially enrolling in Medicare, or any time afterwards, it's a good idea to consider getting this sent as soon as possible.
A complete estate plan is one of the most important aspects of any financial plan. While many go through the process of getting the necessary legal documents written, sometimes other forms get overlooked. If you are on Medicare and have not filled out this additional authorization form, now may be a good time to consider getting that done.
If you have questions or need assistance with your financial planning, we encourage you to reach out to our team.