If you are interested in a Medicare health plan from Blue Cross Blue Shield you have to make a choice. You can choose supplemental Medicare Blue Cross insurance also known as Medigap or you can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan sponsored by Blue Cross.
But which type of Blue Cross Medicare plan is better for you? In order to determine which plan is a better choice let’s look at how each plan works and review the positive aspects of each. The key to keep in mind is that there is no universally accepted best plan because everyone has different needs and budgets.
Blue Cross Medicare supplements
Many people refer to all Medicare plans as supplements but only Medigap insurance is a true supplement to original Medicare. A Medicare Advantage Plan is not a supplement as is detailed below.
Medigap insurance was introduced in 1966 to fill the gaps of Medicare. The gaps are financial gaps not coverage gaps. When you have a supplemental Medicare policy it will pay your share of Medicare covered expenses. The level of payment is determined by which of the 10 standardized plans you have. It will not provide benefits beyond original Medicare.
Of all the supplemental Medicare Blue Cross policies Medicare supplement Plan F is the most comprehensive. If your budget allows this is a good plan to have. It is also the most popular Medicare supplement. No matter which company people are insured with more have Plan F than any other supplement.
Benefits of choosing a supplement from Blue Cross
- Standardized plans are easy to shop for and compare
- Several plans to choose from
- No network restrictions
- Plans do not expire each year
- Can’t be canceled as long as you pay your premiums
- No surprise out-of-pocket cost for services
- Joining during open enrollment means you are guaranteed
All is not rosy with Medigap policies. Many people with a low income find supplements out of their price range. A supplement is insurance and rates can and do increase.
Supplemental Medicare does not include coverage for prescription drugs. You will need to purchase a separate Part D Plan. You can choose from one of the Blue MedicareRx Plans or a plan from another company.
Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage Plans are also referred to as Medicare Part C and were introduced in 2006. Advantage Plans are not Medicare supplements but rather another way to receive your Medicare benefits.
An insurance company like Blue Cross Blue Shield becomes approved and contracted with The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to administer and provide your Medicare benefits.
Unlike Medigap policies, plans are not standardized and are offered as an annual plan County by County. These plans often require you to use a provider network to receive services.
Benefits of choosing a Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Plan
- Low premiums or $0 premiums in some cases
- Plans often include Part D coverage
- Fixed co-payments and coinsurance amounts for service
- Can evaluate and change plans annually
- Extra benefits beyond original Medicare included
- Other than ESRD health is not an issue for enrollment
There are also drawbacks to Medicare Advantage Plans. Some benefits can be a double edged sword. For instance, an annual plan ends December 31 and the benefits for the next year may be different, the premium may be higher or the plan may not be available in your area. Also network restrictions may not be beneficial for some lifestyles.
Many Medicare Advantage Plans have seen an increase in monthly premiums and in some cases are as high as premiums for a Medicare supplement. Medicare supplement Plan N has become an increasingly popular alternative to Advantage plans due to its plan design and lower monthly premium.
Which will you choose?
If your budget allows and you can pay for services not included in original Medicare you may find a supplemental Medicare Blue Cross policy to be a better choice. This is especially true if you do not want restrictions on where you can use your insurance.
If you find that a supplement is out of reach, you can compare Medicare Advantage Plans. Blue Cross offers plans to meet most everyone’s budget.
Whether you choose a Blue Cross supplement or a Medicare Advantage Plan sponsored by Blue Cross you can shop and submit your application online.