Senior Life Matters

8/8/18: I received new insurance info for 2019. What do I do?

Question: My insurance company sent information about my Medicare Advantage plan. My monthly premium looks to be the same. I don’t think I should change plans. I am happy with my current plan. What do you think? How would I know which plan to choose for 2019?

Answer: The 2019 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. I am excited that this year we didn’t lose a lot of our plans. In fact we have MORE plans than we did last year.

You should definitely research the alternatives available and decide which plan works for you. I would encourage you to review the many choices you have. Try to find out more about your plan to be sure it is still valuable, useful and beneficial for you. Then look to alternative plans for you. When comparing your current plan 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 2019. You can make changes to your plans between October 15th and December 7th, 2018. During this time you can switch your insurance product and your new plan will begin January 1, 2019. 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 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.

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 is one new plan. There are also some plans that are now sold under a new company.

You can see the list of options for Medicare Advantage Plans is different than last year’s list. There are 29 plans available and 21 of them provide drug coverage. There is one NEW Medicare Advantage Plan and some plans from last year have new names.

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”. There is also a list of available plans in your Medicare & You Handbooks. This list can be confusing though because it lists plans for the whole state. You can only purchase a plan available in your county. So many of plans listed in your Handbook are not plans you can enroll in.

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 716-720-9797 or e-mail her at