Powerful medical coverage from Medicare Advantage may be able to decrease some of your costs for medical care. We want to show you what BCBS Medicare Advantage plans for 2019 have to offer you and why you may benefit from signing up for one of them. We’ll also detail the process for applying for one of these plans, so you know what to expect and if you qualify for one of them.
You may or may not need a coverage plan that is as robust as Medicare Advantage, but every senior should at least consider this type of plan, as it has the potential to save them a lot of money over time.
Who Is BCBS?
You may know BCBS as Blue Cross Blue Shield, and this is an insurance company that has been around for a while and that operates a bunch of smaller business independently from one another. That means that each office can operate autonomously and set their own prices and even decide on what kind of coverage they want to offer. They all operate on the same framework, though, which means that you get similar benefits and member services by signing up with them.
The company is well known for excellent customer service and reasonable rates. And they are often one of the cheaper options available, which makes them very popular among budget-conscious seniors.
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BCBS is not able to offer you an Advantage plan that is radically different from what other insurance companies provide. They all have to abide by the same basic coverage principles, though they can each decide on additional coverage options, if they like. BCBS, like other insurance providers, may change its coverage and rates in time, and you will want to pay attention to those changes if you are looking for a decent coverage plan for yourself. Even if they don’t seem to be the best option this year, they could be a better choice next year, as things change.
What Advantage Plans Have to Offer You
If you were to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, then you could enjoy coverage for a lot of the same stuff that you get covered for by the basic Medicare plan. In fact, all of original Medicare’s coverage is included in the basic Medicare Advantage plan. That would be both Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B.
However, there is more to these plans than just a simple copy and paste of Original Medicare. Any given Medicare Advantage plan also has to provide you coverage for emergency medical services as well as for urgently needed care. These are essential for many seniors, and they offer great coverage to have to take care of unexpected medical costs.
The basic coverage is included with every Medicare Advantage plan, no matter which insurance company is selling them. There is additional coverage that’s available as well, and many insurance companies offer that with their plans.
The most common additional coverage provided with Medicare Advantage plans is for Medicare Part D, or prescription drug coverage. That would take care of much of the cost of medication for a lot of people, but how much it will cover you for depends on your situation, what kind of drugs you need to buy and what Part D plan you choose. You see, there is not just one set Part D plan, as each insurance company tends to have their own version of it. They all cover prescription drugs, but in different ways.
Medicare Advantage plans can also cover you for things like prescription eyewear, hearing aids and many of your checkups, going far beyond what the Original Medicare plan covers you for. That’s some powerful coverage, and it is no wonder that many seniors consider signing up for these plans each year.
The BCBS Medicare Advantage plans for 2019 may or may not include all the items we just covered here. It’s up to the company to decide what it wants to cover, and it can change its coverage plans at any time. Once you are locked into one of their plans, then your coverage don rates are guaranteed for the rest of the term (which is usually a full year), but after that, it could change on you, and it may be time to consider a new plan by then.
How You Can Sign Up
If you are interested in applying for one of these plans, then you need to go to BCBS directly. You can visit their website and apply online there or call them up or visit one of their offices. It should only take a matter of minutes to complete the application, and then you just need to wait to see if you have been approved.
Most seniors who apply for these plan as are approved, so long as they follow a few basic rules. First of all, they have to be 65 years or older, unless they meet certain special medical requirements. They also need to apply within the enrollment period, which starts in October 15th and ends on December 7th.
Once you have been approved, then you can decide to accept the terms of the plan or not. You are not obligated to start paying anything until you agree to those terms. Once you are approved, though, the plan should go into effect on the first day of the following year.
You have a short period in which to cancel or change your plan without penalty. This is the disenrollment period, and it runs from the first of the year until the middle of February. Once that is over, you may not be able to change your plan until your current term is up. If you do decide to sign up for a different plan, then that new plan will go into effect as soon as your current plan’s term is up.
How to Use Medicare Advantage
You cannot just go to any medical facility, such as a hospital or clinic, and expect your Advantage plan to cover you. There are some of those facilities that will not be part of your insurance company’s network. Now BCBS is a fairly large company, so it has a massive network of facilities that it works with and that accept its plans, however, there will be some that do not accept BCBS plans.
You should find out before you sign up for one of their plans which hospitals and other medical facilities near you are on their network. It could be that nothing in your area is on the BCBS network, and if that is the case, then you may want to reconsider signing up for one of their plans. You can still choose BCBS and get some coverage, though.
You see, there are two main types of network plans to pick from. You can get your Medicare Advantage plan on an HMO plan, which lets you get full coverage according to your plan only at approved, network facilities. Or you can choose the more expensive PPO option, which lets you get partial coverage off the network and full coverage on the network. It is up to you, and you may have other options available as well.
You should be aware of your options and how they will affect you. Just because there is no network facility near you that is compatible with any BCBS Medicare Advantage Plans for 2019, that does not mean that you have to give up on signing with BCBS. Look at what your options are and make sure that you are choosing what you think will be the best fit for you for the coming year. Once you take the time to do that, you should be able to cut down your costs for medical care for the entire year.
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