Care Improvement Plus Medicare Advantage plans are ending their coverage in Henry County for 2016, affecting 166 county residents.

Written by Theresa Rose on October 31, 2015

Each year Medicare Advantage plans decide whether to sign a contract with Medicare. Some plans make business decisions to leave Medicare altogether or stop offering plans in certain areas. Plans had to notify members by October 2, 2015 if they will not be renewing their contract with Medicare.

What are your options if you received a non-renewal letter from Care Improvement Plus? You have two choices– join a new Medicare Advantage plan or return to Original Medicare. Your current coverage will end on December 31, 2015. You can choose another Medicare Advantage plan or change to Original Medicare between October 15, 2015 and February 29, 2016. Making a decision by December 31, 2015 assures you have coverage that best meets your needs January 1. You are still in the Medicare program no matter what you choose.

The letter you received from your plan should include a list of Medicare Advantage plans available in the county for 2016. Before you join a new plan, compare plans. Not all the plans may cover your doctors. Contact your doctors to see if they accept the plan. Be sure you have prescription drug coverage whichever Medicare Advantage option you choose and make sure your prescriptions are covered.

If you return to Original Medicare you will need to join a new prescription drug plan to continue coverage. If you don’t join a drug plan and you don’t have other drug coverage as good as Medicare’s, you may pay a late enrollment penalty if you choose to join later. You have until February 29, 2016 to enroll in a new Medicare drug plan. Your coverage will start the first day of the month following your application.

Choosing to return to Original Medicare also gives you a guaranteed right to buy a Medicare supplement insurance policy to help pay costs not paid by Medicare. You are guaranteed the right to buy Medicare supplement plans A, B, C, F (including high deductible Plan F), K or L. You can buy from any company selling these policies in Iowa. If you are under age 65 on Medicare you must buy from companies selling to people on Medicare because of a disability.

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Guaranteed right means the insurance company must sell you a policy, must cover pre-existing conditions and cannot charge you more because of past or present health issues. You have 63 days from the day your Medicare Advantage plan ends to apply for a supplement policy. To receive this guaranteed right you must apply for a policy by March 3, 2016.

For help comparing your options call SHIIP, a service of the State of Iowa Insurance Division. The SHIIP site in Henry County is The Fellowship Cup at 319-385-3242. SHIIP’s services are free, confidential and objective. They do not promote or sell any insurance products.