Columbia, S.C. -- As seniors and others who hold Medicare Parts A and B undergo open enrollment for their 2009 Medicare Advantage plans Nov. 15-Dec. 31, BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina hopes to be able to serve the diverse needs of many additional members by offering a variety of options statewide.
In South Carolina, more than 700,000 Medicare beneficiaries have a choice of about 200 plans being offered by more than 20 companies, of which S.C. BlueCross is the largest headquartered in the state.
The company will offer three PFFS (private fee for service) plans and two PPO (preferred provider organization) plans in every county in the state. In addition, members will be able to join a PFFS plan and pay no premium, as well as a PPO plan with drug coverage to be offered at no premium in the Upstate and Midlands regions.
The company began marketing today its two statewide PPO offerings, Medicare BlueSM and Medicare BlueSM Plus. In particular, the company is providing information for insurance agents statewide to be able to assist customers. BlueCross will mail information packages and will schedule seminars in which potential members can learn more about the new plans and benefits available for 2009. Individuals may call toll-free 1-800-930-2912 (TTY 1-800-681-3846) now to receive more information, and beginning Nov. 15 individuals may enroll by calling that number.
"The government only allows a short time frame for enrollment, just six weeks, so we are prepared to tell seniors and others on Medicare about the strengths of having a statewide provider network as an advantage for them," said S.C. BlueCross BlueShield Division President David Pankau. "We also are prepared to help them understand what Medicare Advantage plans are in general. For new enrollees, the options can be confusing."
Medicare Advantage plans are available from private insurance companies for people who have Medicare Part A and B. They must offer at least the same benefit as Medicare, helping to cover some of the costs of medical and hospital care. BlueCross also offers Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage both on a stand alone basis as well as built into its Medicare Advantage plans. In addition, BlueCross is offering additional benefits not routinely covered by Medicare, including dental, vision and hearing benefits on selective plans.
A Medicare beneficiary elects to join a Medicare Advantage plan and there may or may not be required premiums depending on the member’s subsidy status and the county in which the member resides. Most Medicare Advantage plans are designed so that a member will pay a copayment or some out-of-pocket cost when their physician provides medical services. S.C. BlueCross provides a summary for its plans that shows what services are covered and at what copayments, and it shows which providers are in its statewide PPO plans.
Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and its family of companies include more than 20 subsidiaries involved in health insurance services, U.S. DoD health program and Medicare contracts, and other insurance and employee benefits services.
SM Service Mark of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.