Blue Cross Medicare plans – 2015 options reviewed
The following is a brief overview of what you need to know to compare 2015 Blue Cross Medicare plans.
Learning about the different types of plans offered will allow you to choose between Blue Cross Medicare plans as well as compare Blue Medicare plans to other available plans such as AARP MedicareComplete.
Types of Blue Cross Medicare plans
If you are interested in a Blue Cross plan beyond what original Medicare offers you basically have two choices. You can purchase a Blue Cross Medicare supplemental plan, also known as Medigap or you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan offered by Blue Cross.
Blue Cross Medicare Supplement
Medicare supplement policies are standardized insurance policies that fill in the gaps of original Medicare. To clarify, they do not offer coverage for services not included in Medicare but rather help pay your share of Medicare covered expenses. These expenses typically include your Part A hospital deductible and the Part B coinsurance amount of 20%.
The extent to how much of your expenses are covered depends on which standardized plan you purchase. Medicare supplement Plan F is the most comprehensive Medigap policy available.
Shopping for a Medicare supplement offered by Blue Cross is fairly simple because plans are standardized no matter which company you choose. Plan F benefits for instance will be the same no matter the company but the premium can vary.
Benefits of a Medicare supplement include:
- Choose any provider that accepts Medicare
- Peace of mind knowing what is covered
- Number of plans to choose from
- Out of pocket costs are predictable
Some down sides of a Medicare supplement may include, the affordability of the premium, Part D is not included, no extra benefits like dental or vision and the premiums will generally increase year after year.
Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plan
Medicare Advantage plans or Part C as they are known are offered as an alternative way of receiving your Medicare benefits. Plans are administered by private insurance companies that have been approved and contracted by CMS.
You are still enrolled in Medicare and must continue to pay your Part B premium. Unlike Medicare supplement policies, Medicare Advantage plans are not standardized and can actually vary in benefits and premiums County by County.
You may or may not have a Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plan available in your County. One popular Advantage plan is Freedom Blue PPO but many more are available. Plan types include; HMO, PPO and Private fee-for-service plans.
Medicare Advantage plans are annual plans that must be renewed at years end. To learn more about Medicare Advantage enrollment check out the following article:
Benefits of a Medicare Advantage plan include:
- Lower monthly premiums including $0 per month in some cases
- Predictable co-payments and coinsurance amounts
- Part D often included
- Lower in-network costs
- Addition benefits like vision and dental often included
The downside of an Advantage plan may include limited in-network coverage for specialists, higher out-of-pocket costs when out-of-network and plans needing to be renewed on an annual basis.
Tips to compare Blue Cross Medicare plans for 2015
Comparing Medicare supplement policies is a straight forward endeavor. Review the plan benefits for each standardized plan to determine which is best for you and then compare the premium amount with other companies.
Comparing Medicare Advantage plans is a little more complicated. Plans are not standardized and there can be many moving parts. Things to consider include:
- Is the monthly premium affordable?
- Are your providers in network?
- Are the co-payments and coinsurance amounts reasonable?
- Are your medications included in the plan’s formulary?
- Does the plan include the extra benefits that are important to you?
Visit the Medicare website at medicare.gov to get an overview of plans available. To learn more about each plan you will need to visit the plan’s website and search for plans specific to your County. This will allow you to see what 2015 Blue Cross Medicare plans are available.