Senior Life Matters: 2018 Medicare Advantage Plans

Question: My insurance company sent information about my Medicare Advantage plan. My wife’s monthly premium looks to be more expensive each month and my plan is gone completely. What do we do? How do we know which plan to choose for 2018?

Answer: The 2018 Medicare Insurance season is here. I am so excited about the plans offered this year. During the Annual Open Enrollment Period everyone with Medicare gets a LOT of information about the products you have and the others that are offered. The mail you receive and commercials you see overwhelm you with too much information. You and your wife should definitely research the alternatives available and find plans that work for you. I would encourage you to review the many choices you have. Try to find out if the plan your wife has is still valuable, useful and beneficial for her. Then look to alternative plans for you, since the one you had is no longer available. When comparing it with other products you will learn more about insurance. You may find something better, or you may decide you have a good deal after all.

Be cautious in reviewing the alternatives. I often hear that people switch to a plan that a friend or family member recommended. Everyone makes insurance choices for different reasons. Be sure their reasons for liking that product make sense for you.

This week I will list the Medicare Advantage Plans that are available for 2018. You can make changes to your plans between Oct. 15 and Dec. 7. During this time you can switch your insurance product and your new plan will begin Jan. 1, 2018. The following list includes ALL Medicare Advantage Plans for our area. Some have drug coverage and some do not. It is important to consider more than just the price. This list is printed as a way for you to figure out what all those mailings are that you are receiving. This list was obtained from the website and is for Chautauqua County. It is important to understand each county has different plans available. These plans are listed alphabetically by plan name, not any preference to level of service or type of plan. The abbreviations mean: PFFS – Private Fee For Service, HMO- Health Maintenance Organization, HMO-POS – Health Maintenance Organization with a Point of Service Benefit, PPO- Preferred Provider Organization. Note the Medicare Savings Account-MSA available in past years is no longer available in our area.

As you review these plans, note that there are some plans that come from the same company, but have changed the type of plan they are. There are some new plans. There are also some plans that were popular in past years that are no longer available.

You can see the list of options for Medicare Advantage Plans is different than last year’s list. There are 28 plans available and 20 of them provide drug coverage. There are a number of NEW Medicare Advantage Plans and some plans from last year no longer exist.

There are many more factors to look into besides those listed here. You need to think about benefits, co-pays, who participates in the plan and how well it covers your medications. This list was generated to help you decipher what insurance salespeople are talking about, and what you get in the mail. To obtain a list for your area/county, use the website tool, “Find Health & Drug Plans”.

Happy Insurance Season! You should be pleased with the number of alternatives you have to choose from and probably a little overwhelmed. Next week I will review the Stand Alone Prescription Drug Plans available this coming year.

To contact Janell Sluga, GCMC with questions or concerns, please call 720-9797 or e-mail her at