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Modern Technology Helps The
Tradition of "Snow Birds"
By Jude Roberts, Staff Writer
(Page 1 of 3)

“My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned sixty, and that’s the law.”
Jerry Seinfeld

The snow flurries have yet begun to stick to the ground, and the migratory pattern of the Great North American Snow Bird begins to shift in a southerly and westerly course, making a path towards California, Arizona, and most assuredly and especially, Florida. The average “nesting” period for folks from Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey and even the farthest reaches of Canada, will be about three to five months. Once they’ve landed, some of their favorite past-times include walking along sandy-white beaches that feel like talcum powder underfoot, along with playing endless rounds of golf, swimming in the warm Florida surf, and sunning themselves on days that native Floridians consider cold and overcast. There are migratory pattern alerts and updates for the I-95 and I-75 corridors, along with a daily RV count. Evidence of their arrival has very obvious signs… increased traffic and full restaurants can be spotted everywhere, as well as overcoats and sweaters being molted for t-shirts and shorts.

The colder weather up north also signals an increased workload for medical professionals south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Medical aficionados affectionately refer to the medical offices, hospitals, and clinics of Florida, California and Arizona, as “Medicare Hubs.” If you consider yourself to be a “snow bird” on the migratory pattern towards one of these warmer states, you should know that Medicare is hard at work, upgrading their database, in order to help make life a little easier for seniors who become ill when they’re away from home. The renovations to the database will assist medical professionals and healthcare providers in checking the status of insurance coverage for patients from anywhere in the country. This will enable accurate confirmation of addresses, including those addresses used for only part of the year, easing the burden of proof of coverage for “snow birds.” Although this “overhaul” with the database may worry some about “Big Brother” being flagged to particular, individual information, people are being assured that the new and improved database will not include their medical records, maintaining medical privacy. In fact, the long-range goal for these improvements is for a single, comprehensive database to be created for all those enrolled nationally, in both the Medicare and Medicaid programs. Some of the worst problems of the past, such as the inability to correctly track the coverage of Medicare beneficiaries, as well as private insurance responsibilities, and the crosschecking of dual eligibility of persons entitled to both Medicare and Medicaid, will hopefully be eradicated. While the improvements do not include the ability for healthcare providers to directly access information, it does allow them to send e-mails to Medicare regarding proof of specific coverage. While this sounds like the confirmation process will be no quicker than in the past, the fact that all needed information is now in one database will decrease research time considerably, making certain functions easier to track. When you consider how much time and money will be saved in the long run, the six million dollar price tag for a database renovation of this size is relatively cheap.

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