SPOKANE, Wash. - A retired Spokane man that has been using Medicare for several years no longer exists in their computer database. It all has to do with a clerical error started by his name having too many letters.
In June, Robert Lautzenheiser received a bill from a recent doctor visit, but it didn't show a payment by Medicare. The billing office told him his Medicare claim was not processed because his name was incorrect.
His driver's license and social security show his name with an "R" at the end, but his Medicare card has it without one. Lautzenheiser says it's because when he originally filed in 2009 there weren't enough spaces on the form to fit his entire name.
"Well when someone like Jones makes up the database," said Robert Lautzenheiser. They don't think about how long last names can be,"
In the past he's done everything by paper billing, and a human was able to double-check and correct the error. But it's now become an issue because billing switched to an electronic filing system, and the computer says he doesn't exist. Now he's been having to go back and forth between Medicare and Social Security to get this error corrected.
"One big annoying mess for one letter," said Lautzenheiser.
Lautzenheiser thinks it should be as easy as adding the letter into a database, but instead he has to work through all the bureaucratic red tape to convince the government he's a real person.