- Medicare Advantage plans must include all the benefits you would receive from traditional Medicare, except for hospice. All states where BlueCross BlueShield Medicare Advantage plans are sold must also include prescription medication benefits in at least one of the options. Not all are required to carry it, especially private fee-for-service plans.
- Medicare Advantage plans from BlueCross BlueShield require that you pay a monthly premium. There will also be co-payments, generally a fixed amount, for some services. In addition, you must still continuing paying premiums for Medicare Part B.
- BlueCross BlueShield has a seven-month open enrollment period to join Medicare Advantage. These cover the three months before and after you turn 65 years old, and the month of your birthday. If do not join at this time, you may have to pay a late enrollment fee if you enroll later.
Types of Plans
- BlueCross BlueShield sells Medicare Advantage plans in several options. Not all states offer all options. One is the HMO (health maintenance organization) plan. With this plan, customers must get their medical services from providers contracted by the insurance company to be part of their network. Another option is a preferred-provider Medicare Advantage plan, under which you are not required to stay in a network but you will pay higher costs if you go outside of it. In Alabama, Idaho, Minnesota and Pennsylvania, BlueCross offers special needs options, which are plans targeted specifically to people with certain conditions. Many states also allow BCBS to sell a private fee-for-service plan, which lets you go to any medical provider who agrees to the plan's payment terms.
- BlueCross BlueShield's Medicare Advantage plans are not offered in every state. As of 2010, there are 11 states in which BCBS does not sell the plans. These are Texas, Alaska, Arizona, Illinois, Delaware, Louisiana, Kansas, Maryland, Vermont, Mississippi and New Mexico.