BUFFALO – Only seven days remain in the Medicare Advantage Annual Enrollment Period, but it’s not too late for eligible consumers to gain information and enroll in a plan before the December 7 deadline.
With the deadline approaching, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is offering a number of resources to help the region’s 300,000 Medicare-eligible residents make a confident decision about their coverage in 2018.
Over the last two months, thousands of individuals have visited the health plan’s new “Medicare Center” storefronts for face-to-face support. The Medicare Centers were launched in October of 2017 as an outlet for individuals to review coverage options and have questions answered by the health plan’s team of licensed benefit consultants.
The three centers, located at 2395 Maple Road, Williamsville, NY; 2925 Sheridan Drive, Tonawanda, NY; and 4086 N. Buffalo Road, Orchard Park, NY, are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
With more options than ever, BlueCross BlueShield encourages individuals to review their coverage each year. In a recent Point of Health audiocast, the health plan’s Director of Consumer Markets, Tom Sass, offered the following tips to help individuals find the plan that best meets their needs:
- Do your homework – Plans can change and new options are introduced to the market each year. On top of this, your own health care needs change. It’s important to review your coverage each year and make sure the plan you are in is right for you.
- Look at total cost – Everyone looks at a plan’s monthly premium, and that’s an important component of your total annual health care costs. But there are other out-of-pocket costs including hospital expenses, prescriptions, and doctor bills that need to be taken into consideration. Finding the lowest premium plan may not necessarily be the most affordable option for everyone.
- Access to doctors and hospitals – What are the doctors and hospitals that are important to you? It’s important to do your research now, to make sure your plan includes your preferred network of health care providers. If you fall into the “snowbird” category or travel often, there are plans that offer coverage in all 50 states.
- Review your medications – Prescription drug coverage is a significant cost for most people, especially as we begin to age. Make a list of your medications and review that with your insurance company before enrolling in any plan. Not all coverage is equal so finding a plan that gives you the best access and coverage for your medications is important.
- Ask for help – There are licensed consultants in the community that can help make the process easier for you. To get the answers to your questions and seek out questions you may not even know you have, it’s important to speak with a Medicare expert.
Medicare Advantage is the portion of Medicare through which private health plans like BlueCross BlueShield provide comprehensive medical coverage to eligible consumers and individuals with disabilities. The program is extremely popular locally, with over 50% of all Medicare beneficiaries in Western New York choosing to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. This is significantly higher than the national average of 33%.
In addition to visiting the health plan’s new Medicare Centers, individuals can call BlueCross BlueShield’s dedicated Medicare Advantage number at 1-800-248-9296 (TTY 711) 8 a.m.- 8 p.m., seven days a week, email SalesCenterWNY@bcbswny.com, or visit bcbswny.com/medicare for information on BlueCross BlueShield’s 2018 Medicare Advantage products.
The deadline to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan is December 7, and once enrolled, their new plan will take effect January 1, 2018.
About BlueCross BlueShield of WNY
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is a division of HealthNow New York Inc., an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. Since 1936, BlueCross BlueShield has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. BlueCross BlueShield offers a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as life and disability coverage, dental and vision plans and stop-loss coverage. As a community-based, not-for-profit health plan, BlueCross BlueShield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of our community.
For up-to-date news, facts, and information about the company, leadership, and industry, please visit the BlueCross BlueShield News Center at bcbswny.com/news or follow us on Twitter.
About our BlueCross BlueShield’s benefits and premiums
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York is a Medicare Advantage plan with a Medicare contract and enrollment depends on contract renewal. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premium, and/or copayments/coinsurance may change on January 1 of each year. The formulary, pharmacy network, and/or provider network may change at any time. You will receive notice when necessary. Other pharmacies/physicians/providers are available in our network. You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium. A salesperson will be present with information and applications. For accommodations of persons with special needs at sales meetings, please call 1-800-248-9296 (TTY 711).
Individuals must have both Parts A and B to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. Individuals may enroll in a plan only during specific times of the year. There are additional enrollment guidelines. Contact BlueCross BlueShield for more information.
BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-800-248-9296 (TTY: 711).注意：如果您使用繁體中文，您可以免費獲語言援助服務。請致電1-800-248-9296 (TTY:711).