One of the most important factors for our health is health insurance and the complex nature of Medicare can make it difficult to navigate. Understanding the various parts of Medicare and its supplements can be tough so we talked with Lindy Hinman, the Market President for Medicare in Colorado at Cigna, on Health Happens, our weekly Facebook Live show, about Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans. You can watch the full episode by clicking here.
We wanted to learn more about the Medicare and the Medicare Advantage plans, so let’s start with the basics:
What is Medicare Advantage?
Medicare Advantage plans are a type of Medicare health plan offered by a private insurance company like Cigna that contracts with Medicare to provide all your Part A and Part B and in many cases includes prescription drug benefits called Part D. Medicare Advantage plans cover all of the Medicare benefits and may include dental, hearing and vision services, transportation, over-the-counter allowance for health care products, acupuncture services and much more.
Because of their cost, convenience and additional benefits, these plans are very popular. In fact, more than 22 million people nationally have chosen a Medicare Advantage plan.
When Can You Enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan?
If you are eligible for Medicare Advantage, the federal government defines specific times of the year when you can enroll in the program that are driven by timeframes or life events. These include:
- The Annual Enrollment Period, which is referred to as AEP: During this time, every Medicare beneficiary can enroll in or select a new Medicare Advantage plan between October 15 and December 7. Coverage will become effective Jan. 1 of the following year.
- Open Enrollment Period: From January 1 – March 31. The new OEP allows individuals enrolled in an MA plan, including newly MA-eligible individuals, to make a one-time election to go to another MA plan or Original Medicare with a prescription drug plan.
- The Initial Enrollment Period, which is three months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65 and three months after you turn 65 (or when Part A and B become effective).
- A Special Enrollment Period: year-round, depending on your situation such retiring or moving into a new location.
What should we look for in a Medicare Advantage plan?
- Pay attention to cost, copays and deductibles.
- Check the range of quality doctors, hospitals and pharmacies in its network.
- Understand your options.
It’s important to select a plan that is a right fit for you and get help with enrollment if necessary.
What Medicare Advantage products is Cigna offering?
Cigna has competitive Medicare Advantage products available now in the Denver metro area and Boulder. We offer HMO and PPO plans. Some highlights of our products include:
- $0 monthly premium
- $0 copay for primary care physician visits
- $25 reduction for your Part B premium if you choose the PPO option;
- $1,000 comprehensive dental benefit in both our HMO and PPO plans;
- $75 quarterly allowance for over-the-counter healthcare products if you choose the HMO option;
- $300 annual allowance to cover acupuncture services;
- Vision services with up to a $200 eyewear annual allowance;
- Hearing services with a $700 hearing aid allowance per ear every three years;
- $0 copay for transportation – 24 one-way trips to plan approved locations (only offered in the Denver metro area)
To learn more about services provided through Cigna and/or enroll in one of Cigna’s Medicare Advantage plans, call 1-877-534-0198 (TTY 711) 7 days a week, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to speak to one of our licensed benefit advisors, schedule an in-home appointment or visit CignaMedicare.com.
9Health is a 501c-3 community non-profit empowering people to put health in their own hands by providing tools such as preventive health screenings, evidence-based, objective health education and eTools and resources for every day in your health journey. To support their work, go to www.9healthfair.org/sponsors/support/