Today I discovered the Government hasn't lost the exquisite art of mentally torturing its citizens. I had to deal with Medicare. My card expired.
I never go to the doctor, (Territory tough), and was unaware of this minor detail until a recent eye exam. Covered by Medicare every two years. Not taken advantage of in over four years.
In this day of computers you’d think it would be easy enough to get a new card over the internet. Nope.
I had to change my address first, from about 6 years ago, so they could update my file. Fair enough, no problem. That should be easy. Nope.
I have to go to a Medicare office to prove I am me. I hate going there. I’m not sick at the moment but I will be after standing in line for an hour with PEOPLE’S KIDS COUGHING IN MY FACE.
It just so happens certain Pharmacy’s are able to process address changes. There’s one 400 metres down the street. I’m off, on a mission.
The Pharmacy ladies are unaware of being able to change an address. Fuck. BUT they have a hot line to Medicare.
I use it.
Here’s where it gets tricky. Try to keep up.
EVERYTHING IN MEDICARE’S CUMBERSOME SYSTEM HINGES ON YOU REMEMBERING YOUR LAST ADDRESS.
Most people can, BUT, all those years ago we had a temporary PO Box number in a crappy little NSW town. We only had it for a short time, forced into that arrangement so real estate companies would process our applications to rent a house. (We move a lot. Normally AustPost redirects our mail CARE OF PO until a new permanent address is organised. That wasn't good enough for real estate people.) I can’t remember it.
So, feeling foolish and bemused, I am unable to come up with the secret code that unlocks my Government file. I hang up.
Perplexed, I tell the woman behind the counter that I’ll do without a Medicare card from now on. She’s very annoyed. (The Government will be too when they find out I’ve slipped out of their net.) She’s straight on the phone. I cringe in, ‘Oh shit, my file is being flagged again’, mode.
The second call creates a stir, requiring my Medicare telephonist to seek counsel while I listen to the ether in telephone limbo. They’re probably readying the TRG (Terrorist Response Group). When she returns I give the same info as the previous call and once more hit a brick wall with the PO Box.
Send a copy of driver’s licence, signed by the woman WHO SHE’S ALREADY SPOKEN TO AND IS STANDING NEXT TO ME, and send it to Medicare. I hang up.
The Pharmacy lady is bloody annoyed. She’s a trusted Health Care Professionals with access to our most intimate details of our illnesses and deformities but her signature is worth more than her word? I have 7 pieces of identification. I have my old Medicare card. I have an honest face.
She rings back A THIRD TIME and kicks arse through the bureaucratic jungle. I still have to confirm my details AGAIN while they rub their butts.
New card will be sent post haste.
I am dumbfounded. Luckily, I have the presence of mind to ask where Medicare will send the new card.
We’re sending it to your PO Box, Sir.
What!?!?! The PO Box whose number I can’t remember? In that different State I have vowed never to return to? Even though I’m standing in a Pharmacy, WITH SICK PEOPLE COUGHING ON ME, trying to change that address, right fucking now?
I make her repeat the new details twice but I bet they fuck it up.
Hope the procedural bypass gives their computer system an embolism.
Like it? See - The whole world is against me.