Medicare payments coming more slowly

The slowness of Medicare reimbursement will get worse before it gets better, and you'll be facing more delays. The government is purposely slowing down payments of Medicare claims as part of an effort to save money and stay within the budget set by Congress, critics say. Checks will be cut less frequently, meaning hospitals will be paid less frequently, and insurance companies that review and pay claims on behalf of the government will send fewer notices to beneficiaries. Nancy-Ann Min DeParle, administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration, has said the average cost of reviewing a Medicare claim has declined in recent years because more claims are being submitted electronically. Even so, the agency is fraught with fiscal concerns, and the Clinton administration has had difficulty getting money from Congress to manage the Medicare program.