Many Medicare recipients in Lincoln County have recently been advised they have one less choice for Medicare Advantage plans. Regence BlueCross-BlueShield is leaving Lincoln County effective January 1, 2016. This means people in the county now just have 3 Medicare Advantage Plans to choose from instead of 4: Moda, HumanaChoice, and Samaritan.
However, people may not be aware that they have a special enrollment period because of the Regents plan’s withdrawal from the county. This means Medicare recipients can switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan, or they can elect to sign up for a Medigap (Medicare Supplement) policy and a Prescription Drug Plan that would work for their needs. This is important because the timeframe for obtaining a guaranteed-issue (which means an insurance company can’t refuse to sell you a Medigap policy) Medigap policy is typically only within the first six months of going onto Medicare.
Make sure you keep these items:
• A copy of the Regence letter that has your name on it as proof of your current coverage being terminated
• The postmarked envelope these papers come in as proof of when it was mailed
You may need to send a copy of some or all of these papers with your Medigap application to prove you have a guaranteed issue right.
Because of this special enrollment period, there now is the option for Regence Medicare Advantage members to move to a Medigap plan and Prescription Drug Plan within 60 days of the plan leaving Lincoln County (January 1, 2016) or move to another Medicare Advantage plan that covers Lincoln County.
Please note that if you currently have the Regence Medicare Advantage Plan and do nothing, you will automatically be switched to basic Medicare – WITHOUT supplement or prescription drug coverage.
For unbiased free counseling, contact the local Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance (SHIBA) office and set up an appointment to review the options. These trained counselors will take the time to educate you on your options for coverage when you are a Medicare recipient. In Lincoln County, SHIBA is sponsored by Oregon Cascades West Council of Governments and can be reached at 541-574-2684. Please bring your letter from Regence explaining that they will not offer a Medicare Advantage Plan in 2016.