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Tag: Medicare Open Enrollment

Medicare’s Wild Ride

Most of us breathe a sigh of relief when we reach Medicare age because we think we will have coverage until we die. And we will. But we may not get all the options we want. Medicare Open Enrollment period officially opens Saturday October 15th, but the insurance companies that administer the Medicare program announced their 2012 plans and rates this past weekend. There was good news and bad news.

Whether you are 16 or 66, getting dumped is a humiliating and frustrating experience. Last week, some residents of my county received a letter from their insurance company saying that their Medicare managed care plan will no longer be offered here next year. Yep. Dumped by Anthem Blue Cross.

In some places around the country, there will be no real choice of managed care options in 2012. In my county only one managed care plan will be offered and it will cost $192 a month. Other counties that Anthem dumped will be left without any managed care plans at all. It’s not just California, though. Medicare beneficiaries in Virginia saw Optima drop out of the market for 2012, citing $20 million losses for that managed care business, and 500,000 enrollees in states offering Coventry or WellCare will also see their managed care options reduced.

Will more insurance companies drop their managed care business when they realize they cannot continue to make the same profits they have been making? Perhaps. Even though the number of plans dropping out of the market is small this year, is it a national trend? Actually, so far it is nothing like a national trend.

In fact, earlier this month, federal officials said they expected a 10 percent increase in enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans, and they said premiums will be 4 percent lower on average in 2012 with benefits remaining consistent with 2011 plans. Which is all well and good if you live in a place where there is still a lot of competition for you as a Medicare beneficiary. But if you do not?

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