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Medicare Advantage enrollment reaches 11.1 million

Created date

September 21st, 2010

For many Medicare beneficiaries, a Medicare Advantage plan has become the most attractive option for health care coverage. A June 2010 data spotlight from the Kaiser Family Foundation reported Medicare Advantage plan enrollment increased 5.7 percent between 2009 and 2010. In total, nearly one out of every four Medicare beneficiaries or 11.1 million are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. Medicare Advantage plans are formed when health insurance companies contract with Medicare to provide health benefits to Medicare beneficiaries, with the idea that private companies may often enhance basic Medicare benefits with additional care coordination, preventive care options, and other services to better manage peoples care. These private insurance companies are Medicare-approved and under contract with Medicare. Also known as Part C of Medicare, a Medicare Advantage plan includes both Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Medical) coverage and often provides other coverage like prescription drugs. These plans always cover emergency and urgent care, and must cover all the services that Original Medicare covers.

Providing extra coverage

According to the official U.S. government website for Medicare, in most Medicare Advantage plans, there are additional benefits and lower co-payments than in the Original Medicare Plan. However, the out-of-pocket costs with Medicare Advantage plans can depend on many factors including individual medical needs and the particular plan so it s important to thoroughly understand the plan s details before joining. Typically, Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional coverage such as vision, hearing, dental, or health and wellness programs. They may also place a strong emphasis on preventive health care services, or services that aim to prevent illness, keep people healthy, and emphasize early detection of diseases. In addition, Medicare Advantage plans often provide care coordination, or the organization of health care services between different providers. Such coordination can help manage a person s overall care.

Saving members money

According to Dorothy Van Court, a member of Erickson Advantage Signature with Drugs, a Medicare Advantage plan exclusively for residents inErickson Living communities, she has saved hundreds of dollars a year by switching to her Medicare Advantage plan. The premiums on my old insurance increased substantially every year. Erickson Advantage was the best deal for me. One of the extras that Van Court appreciates aboutErickson Advantageis the personal touch from the Member Services Representative, an on-site expert in her community who addresses members questions or concerns about billing or coverage. She is worth every penny. I can call her and speak directly to her without going through one of those automated phone systems that so many other insurance companies have. She also welcomes me to stop by her office anytime with questions. What Van Court says she likes best about her Medicare Advantage plan, though, is that she never has to hassle with the bills. One time I did receive a bill in error. It only took one phone call to the Member Services Representative, and she cleared everything up. It was no trouble for me at all. Other members ofErickson Advantageecho Van Court s experience with the Medicare Advantage plan. A 2009 Member Satisfaction Survey was sent to all Erickson Advantage members, and the results showed the plan performed extremely well against the National benchmarks. Benchmark questions measured how well Erickson Advantage performed compared to Medicare Advantage plans nationally. It also asked about member satisfaction and whether the plan provides value to members.

Discovering your options

With Medicare s Annual Election Period beginning on November 15 and running through December 31, 2010, the time is right to review your health plan. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average Medicare beneficiary in 2010 has 33 Medicare Advantage plans available in their area. Whether or not you are satisfied with your current coverage, it can be beneficial to check out the alternatives and compare your options. To help,Erickson Livingresidents can visit their on-siteErickson Advantagelicensed sales agent and speak with this insurance expert who can assist in comparing the costs and benefits of different plans. Outside ofErickson Living communities, Medicare beneficiaries can get in touch with their local Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) office. To find your local SHIP office, contact your state s Department of Aging or Insurance Administration. Erickson Advantageis a Medicare Advantage plan exclusively for residents of Erickson Living communities. To find the community closest to you, see page 10 for the list ofErickson Living communitiesthroughout the country. Erickson Advantage ' is a Medicare Advantage project administered by Evercare ' , offered by UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, a Medicare Advantage organization with a Medicare Contract.