Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplement plans help pay for some of your Medicare costs that are otherwise out-of-pocket expenses for you. These plans help with deductibles, copays, and coinsurance.
Many private insurance companies sell Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans. One of these companies is Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). BCBS offers a wide variety of both types of plans.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield is a major player in the health insurance industry. Does that mean they are the way to go for your Medicare coverage?
Let’s find out.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Footprint
Medicare was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965. At that time, Blue Cross Blue Shield was the only insurance carrier that had the claims processing and computing hardware to actually administer Medicare plans. Because of that, Blue Cross Blue Shield alone provided service for approximately 5 million Medicare beneficiaries – just within that first year!
By the year 2000, Blue Cross Blue Shield had over 100 million members.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is a Medigap provider in all 50 states. Of course, the options available vary from state to state, and premiums are determined by location and age.
Medigap plans are standardized. That means that if you purchase Plan G through Blue Cross Blue Shield, you’ll have the same exact plan as if you purchase it through another company. The only difference is the price.
That being said, Blue Cross Blue Shield Medigap plans actually offers some additional benefits including:
- Some preventive and restorative dental care services
- Routine eye exams
- Allowance for contact lenses or prescription glasses
- Routine hearing exams
- Hearing aids through TruHearing.com
- SilverSneakers membership
- 24/7 nurse hotline
- Blue365 health and wellness discounts
Medigap Plans Offered by Blue Cross Blue Shield
The following is a list of Medigap plans offered by BCBS and a brief description of the coverage contained in each plan.
- Medicare Supplement Plan A
- Covers some of the copays and coinsurance associated with Original Medicare (Parts A and B)
- Medicare Supplement Plan B
- Benefits of Plan A, plus it covers the Part A deductible
- Medicare Supplement Plan C
- Covers Part A and Part B deductibles, copays, coinsurance and offers foreign travel services
- This plan is only available for those who turned 65 prior to January 1, 2020
- Medicare Supplement Plan D
- Covers Parts A and B coinsurance and copays, as well as the Part A deductible and offers foreign travel services
- Medicare Supplement Plan F
- Benefits of Plan C, plus coverage for Part B excess charges.
- This plan is only available for those who turned 65 prior to January 1, 2020.
- Medicare Supplement Plan G
- Benefits of Plan F, but no Part B excess charges coverage
- Medicare Supplement Plan K
- Covers Part A deductible and coinsurance for Parts A and B
- Enjoys an out-of-pocket limit, unlike many of the other plans
- Medicare Supplement Plan L
- Benefits of Plan K, but coverage is at a higher level (75% versus 50%)
- Also enjoys an out-of-pocket limit like Plan K
- Medicare Supplement Plan N
- Covers Parts A and B copays and coinsurance, the Part A deductible, and offers some foreign travel coverage for emergency services
What is SilverSneakers?
SilverSneakers is a health and fitness program that gives older adults gym access and one-on-one fitness sessions. It’s covered by certain Medicare plans.
SilverSneakers members enjoy the following benefits
- Access to participating gyms, fitness equipment, walking tracks, and lap pools
- Fitness classes for older adults – cardio, strength, and yoga options
- Online resources including workout videos, nutrition, and fitness tips
- Access to a large community of SilverSneakers members – online and off
To find a gym that participates in the SilverSneakers program, you can use their online search tool.
Medicare Advantage plans are provided by private health insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield. While they are not standardized by the federal government like Medigap plans are, they have still must be approved to join the Medicare system.
HMOs, PPOs, and Private Fee-for-Service plans are all examples of this type of plan.
Medicare Advantage plans bundle all of the Medicare Part A and B services and also include some additional services. Medicare Advantage plans (also called Part C plans) include extra benefits like wellness programs, dental services, hearing aids, and vision benefits.
These plans usually have a lower premium than Medigap plans.
Since there are not just ten standardized Advantage plans, they are much more difficult to list and discuss benefits. Blue Cross Blue Shield offers many Part C plans at competitive rates. The specific plans available to you will vary by location.
Other Healthcare Options
For those not quite ready for Medicare, Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a variety of options through the Marketplace.
This is a great option for couples if one person is ready for Medicare and the other needs to find outside coverage. We see this happen often when both individuals are on one spouse’s employer’s coverage and that spouse retires and thereby loses the employer’s benefits.
If that’s the case, Blue Cross Blue Shield has affordable plans with as much or as little coverage as you think you may need.
Clearly, Blue Cross Blue Shield makes up a large part of the Medicare options on the market. It may be the right carrier for you, but so much of Medicare is dependent on location, age, and health status, so it’s impossible to definitively say that Blue Cross Blue Shield is the way to go.
But, it might be a great place to start looking. If you are interested in Blue Cross Blue Shield, please give us a call or contact us HERE.
Featured Photo credit: Tony Webster: Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield – Des Moines, Iowa