If you are new to Medicare or are interested in enrolling in Freedom Blue PPO you should review this information.
First, a little background. Freedom Blue is a Medicare Advantage Plan offered by Anthem Blue Cross of California. Freedom Blue is not considered a Medicare supplement.
You must meet certain criteria in order to enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan and you must be within a valid enrollment period to do so.
How does Freedom Blue differ from a Medicare supplement?
Many people mistakenly refer to any Medicare plan as a Medicare supplement, but an Advantage Plan and a Medigap policy are distinct types of plans.
A Medicare supplement is also known as a Medigap policy. Medigap works in conjunction with original Medicare to help pay your share of Medicare covered expenses. Medicare supplemental insurance does not include Part D or offer any benefits for non-Medicare covered expenses.
A Medicare Advantage Plan is offered by a private insurance company which is contracted with The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to administer your Medicare benefits. An Advantage Plan like Freedom Blue may include Part D and often affords you benefits beyond original Medicare.
Who can enroll in Freedom Blue?
To enroll in Freedom Blue you must have Medicare Parts A and B and continue to pay your Part B premium. Medical underwriting is generally not an issue unless you have end-stage-renal disease (ESRD). Those with ESRD do not qualify for an Advantage Plan.
If you are first becoming eligible for Medicare you have a 7 month period in which you can enroll in Freedom Blue. The period begins 3 months prior to the month you turn 65, the month you turn 65 and three months after the month you turn 65. People on disability can enroll after their 25th month of receiving disability benefits.
If you would like to enroll in Freedom Blue for 2013 you will be subject to a new Annual Enrollment Period. Medicare Advantage Plans with a January effective date will require enrollment beginning October 15th through December 7th. It’s important to choose wisely as you will not be able to switch into another 2013 Medicare Advantage plan after December 7th unless you have a Special Enrollment Period related to a Five Star Rated Medicare Advantage plan.
There are several Special Enrollment Period for people with special circumstances. The Medicare and You Handbook is a good resource for additional information.
Comparing Freedom Blue to other plans
Medicare Advantage Plans and Part D Plans are annual plans. Plan benefits can change year-to-year. In some cases plans non-renew and you will be required to shop for a new Medicare Advantage Plan. It is vitally important to be aware of the new Annual Enrollment Period.
When you compare Medicare Advantage plans you should look at each plan with your circumstances in mind. There is not a Best Medicare Advantage plan for everyone. You should review:
- The Summary of Benefits
- Provider Directory
- Part D Formulary
The Summary of Benefits will give you detailed information about all benefits and your cost sharing responsibility. Keep in mind that providers can choose to join or leave a plan network annually. Review the new year’s provider directory to avoid any problems down the road.
The Part D formulary is key to choosing the best prescription coverage.
Freedom Blue PPO has many satisfied members but you should do your research before committing to an annual plan.