Checking and rechecking…Errors are to be expected from governmental agencies…Waiving Part B Medicare…

New sprouts on a coffee bean plant.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

Although this Flame Tree appears to sprout bananas, these yellow pods are the flower before blooming. It’s a favorite spot for birds that stop for a visit, including another variety of the popular Flycatcher.

Three weeks ago, Tom contacted the Railroad Retirement Board (opposed to Social Security or Medicare) as required for retired railway workers. The intent was to inform them of his intention to waive Part B Medicare which would automatically kick in on his upcoming 65th birthday on December 23rd.

If he didn’t do this, there would be a deduction from his pension on the first of every month in the amount of US $109 (CRC 62,113), which may vary based on certain circumstances. But, unfortunately, Medicare doesn’t provide us with any benefits outside of the US (with a few rare exceptions).

Nor do we purchase the additional “supplemental” insurance to cover that which Medicare doesn’t cover. Please keep in mind. This is a generalization. Individual cases may vary. Please contact Medicare via this link if you have questions.

I was driving along a mountain road.

Many tourists can purchase “trip insurance” when they travel. However, this type of insurance is not available to us on an annualized basis since we don’t go on “trips” per se but are continually moving from one location to another outside of the US.

We’ve spoken to other long-term travelers who’ve stated they have purchased trip-by-trip “trip insurance” to receive the benefits of the more comprehensive coverage than we have on our “major medical” annual policy. For us, this would be an outright fabrication. But, this requires informing the insurance company that we are taking individual trips instead of living outside the US.

The problem with doing this is, if they discover a traveler has been traveling non-stop, they could refuse to pay a considerable claim, leaving the traveler with a monstrous bill to pay out of pocket. So we chose not to “lie” to the insurance company or run this type of risk.

In Costa Rica, many homes are located beyond entrance gates.

Instead, we have less coverage that doesn’t pay for doctor visits, prescriptions, or vision care. In most countries, we’ve found doctor visits usually run under US $100 (CRC 56,985), if not less. This works for us. 

If we needed to visit an emergency room or stay in a hospital, have surgery or treatment, our policy covers 100% of the cost. To date, thank God, we’ve never filed a claim, although we’re well aware it’s entirely possible at some point in the future. 

Our policy provides no coverage while we’re in the US, which leaves us with only Medicare Part A, which covers only a portion of a hospital or emergency visit. However, we choose to take that risk when visiting family rather than pay thousands of dollars per year for coverage in the US we cannot use in other countries. I hope this all makes sense to our readers. 

Arriving at the end of a paved road, we turned around and retraced our tracks.

In any case, we called and asked Railroad Retirement to send us the appropriate form to waive Part B. This is a government agency. They were unable to email us the single-page form. Instead, they stated the only way to receive the blank form was to receive it via snail mail. Go figure.

So, three weeks ago, when our mailing service in Nevada received the snail mail from Railroad Retirement, they scanned it and sent it to us via our file in their system. We printed it on the villa’s printer, and Tom promptly signed it. At that point, we used our portable scanner and sent it back to the mailing service via email. Within 24 hours, the mail service had snail-mailed the signed form to Railroad Retirement. Thus, the envelope would take one or two days to arrive from Nevada to California.

Yesterday, three weeks after the snail mail was sent, we called to see if the waiver was processed with our usual mistrust of any governmental agency and certain other types of businesses. Alas, not surprisingly, they had no record of it. 

With no shoulders on most roads, we’ve had to search for a spot like this when attempting to turn around.

A similar scenario occurred when Tom applied online to renew his Nevada driver’s license. All the documents we’d sent never showed in their email. We’d forwarded them a copy of the email we’d sent with all the records, and still, they explained it was never seen and subsequently never processed. Go figure. Eventually, the second batch of documents resulted in Tom receiving the renewal.

Yesterday, we contacted our mailing service asking them to fax the document to Railroad Retirement, at an expense to us, since Railroad Retirement would allow a fax in this particular case instead of waiting for “another” snail mail. Later in the day, the mailing service notified us to say the fax was sent, and they received a confirmation stating it was received.

On Monday, we’ll call Railroad Retirement again to confirm it’s done. But, of course, one can’t ever be sure without confirmation. Over the past five years of world travel, I can’t possibly describe all of the scenarios when errors have been made in handling our “business-related” transactions. 

This fast-growing tree on the coffee plantation shot up this tall in only a few years.  Variety unknown.

Antiquated systems and incompetency are often the cause of such extra work we experience in handling everything from afar. When one dreams of traveling the world for years to come, it’s always essential to consider handling transactions of any type.

Whether we find PayPal is blocked in a particular country, have forms to be signed for financial matters, or are required to change passwords periodically. In addition, on certain accounts, they require we have a text number to send us a code. 

We don’t have a cell phone contract with access to a US phone number that allows texts other than through Skype or Facebook Messenger for these purposes. Businesses don’t use these mediums for communication. We often have to figure out a frustrating, time-consuming workaround.

Mountains are prevalent in most areas of Costa Rica.

In years to come, this may be easier, but for now, as we continue on our otherwise blissful journey, we remind ourselves we chose this lifestyle, and with it comes several challenges. 

Once such a cumbersome task is re-done or completed, we sit back and smile for a second time, grateful we figured out a solution and get back to swimming in the pool or searching for photo ops.

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, October 20, 2016:

In Bali, the view changed dramatically as the tide rolled in.  For more photos, please click here.