Blue Cross and Michigan Health Endowment Fund Team to Protect Vulnerable People
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is beginning to work closely with nearly 200,000 members enrolled in Legacy Medigap plans to manage changes coming soon to the price of their products. Beginning January 1, 2017, premiums will be substantially higher. The changes result from the expiration of a five-year freeze on our premium rates, plus the expiration of a state-mandated subsidy program.
Obviously, a big question on people’s minds will be how to maintain their ability to afford Medigap coverage. Many Medicare beneficiaries – particularly those with lower incomes – are already hard-pressed to come up with extra money for anything they buy.
Big help for lower-income (adjusted gross income) people who choose to stay with a Medigap plan will come from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. The Endowment Fund was created by state law and was given the responsibility to continue to provide subsidies to Medigap members who are financially vulnerable. Blue Cross has been the sole source of money for the Endowment Fund, having already paid $210 million out of a total commitment of $1.56 billion to be spread over 18 years.
Who is eligible for Medigap subsidies?
The Endowment Fund – which is independent from Blue Cross – created criteria for all future Medigap subsidies after consulting with the senior advocacy community and Michigan health plans, including Blue Cross.
Medicare beneficiaries enrolling in Medigap are eligible for subsidies to reduce their premiums if their annual household incomes (adjusted gross incomes) are below $17,820 for an individual or below $24,030 for a couple.
For people who qualify, what are the Medigap subsidies worth?
If income criteria are met, subsidies for persons with disabilities under 65 years old are $125 per month. Subsidies for people ages 76 and older are $65 per month, and subsidies for people ages 65 to 75 are $40 per month.
The subsidies will reduce the amount that the insurance company bills for Medigap coverage.
When does the Medigap subsidy program begin?
The program begins January 1, 2017, with enrollment beginning on October 1, 2016.
How do people enroll?
Blue Cross will mail application forms to all of our Legacy Medigap members to ensure our members can apply for subsidized premiums if they are eligible.
People also can learn more by calling 866-824-9772 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., or going online to MichiganMedigapSubsidy.com.
Photo credit: Ian MacKenzie