Caring for aging parents or family members can be challenging, especially if you’re helping choose their health care coverage. If you’re one of the nearly 510,000 caregivers in the state of Michigan making decisions on behalf of loved one or parent, you may be familiar with Original Medicare. Comprised of Parts A and B, Original Medicare is basic coverage offered by the government.
Because Medicare is comprised of different parts, you can either buy a plan that combines coverage or you can build a plan that begins with Original Medicare and adds to it. If you are looking for additional coverage for your loved one, a Medicare Advantage plan might be a good option.
Here are six things every caregiver should know about Medicare Advantage:
- Medicare Advantage includes what you get from Original Medicare plans, plus more. You don’t lose any coverage by switching to Medicare Advantage. That’s because Medicare Advantage plans all offer the same benefits as Medicare Parts A and B. On top of that, many Medicare Advantage plans cover dental, vision, hearing, and prescription drugs coverage.
- It’s easy to sign up for Medicare Advantage. If your loved one already has Original Medicare, it’s easy to help them sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare beneficiaries have two opportunities to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan: when they first become eligible for Medicare or during the Annual Election Period in the fall. Finally, there are certain circumstances that would warrant a Special Election Period where a beneficiary can also sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan. Visit our website for more details.
- Medicare Advantage plans have an annual limit on out-of-pocket costs. With Medicare Advantage, there is a limit on how much a member will pay out-of-pocket in one year. Original Medicare does not offer this benefit. If your loved one reaches their maximum dollar amount for out-of-pocket expenses, the plan will pay all costs for most covered services. Out-of-pocket expenses for Blue Cross Medicare Advantage members can range from $0 to $6,100, depending on the plan.
- Medicare Advantage members can use a wide network of physicians. Medicare Advantage plans offer flexibility in terms of seeing specific doctors and specialists. If a member has a PPO Medicare Advantage plan, they can see a specialist without a referral (most HMO Medicare Advantage plans require them to see a primary care doctor first). Before you choose a Medicare Advantage plan, you can check to see if your doctor is in-network.
- Medicare Advantage can help members control their costs. With low copay options for most in-network services, you can choose the right level of care based on your budget and the expected amount of use throughout the year.
- Medicare Advantage offers benefits when you travel. Unlike Original Medicare, Blue Cross’ Medicare Advantage plans cover emergency care if your loved one is out of the country. And some Medicare Advantage plans provide travel benefits through BlueCard® programs when their members travel outside of Michigan, but within the US.
Learn more about Blue Cross’ Medicare Advantage plans here. If you would like to gather more information on Medicare, Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP), Inc. is a free counseling service that aims to educate, counsel and empower Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers so they can make informed health benefit decisions. You can visit MMAP online at www.mmapinc.org or call 1-800-803-71714.
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Image Credit: British Red Cross
Medicare Plus BlueSM, Blue Cross® Medicare Private Fee for Service, BCN AdvantageSM and Prescription BlueSM are PPO, PFFS, HMO-POS, HMO and PDP plans with Medicare contracts. Enrollment in Medicare Plus Blue, Blue Cross Medicare Private Fee for Service, BCN Advantage and Prescription Blue depends on contract renewal. This information is not a complete description of benefits. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Contact the plan for more information. Benefits, premiums and/or co-payments/coinsurance may change on January 1 of each year. Out-of-network/non-contracted providers are under no obligation to treat Medicare Plus Blue members, except in emergency situations. For a decision about whether we will cover an out-of-network service, we encourage you or your provider to ask us for a pre-service organization determination before you receive the service. Please call our customer service number or see your Evidence of Coverage for more information, including the cost-sharing that applies to out-of-network services. The provider network may change at any time. You will receive notice when necessary.
Y0074_W_6ThngsCrgvrsKnwMA CMS Accepted 03042017