(LONG BEACH , Calif. – Dec. 1, 2015) — The Medicare annual enrollment period comes to a close on December 7, which means Medicare beneficiaries have just days remaining to make a health plan selection for 2016. With so many options and a ticking clock, seniors and others on Medicare can have a hard time making this important decision.
“At this point in the season most people have reviewed various plans’ benefits, they know which plans include their doctors, and they’ve seen the quality star ratings,” said Cathy Batteer, general manager at SCAN Health Plan. “If you’ve done all of this research and still can’t decide, talking to friends and family who are members of a plan is a great way to learn if a particular plan is right for you.”
Batteer says that in selecting a health plan it is important for seniors to weigh quantitative measures such as costs and plan benefits with the overall experience each plan offers. Batteer recommends asking current plan members some key questions:
- How easy is it to get hold of a real customer service person at the plan? “Automated systems are everywhere now, and they do serve a purpose,” said Batteer. “But when it comes to questions about their healthcare, people don’t want to push buttons. They want to connect with someone.”
- Are the customer service representatives knowledgeable and helpful? Healthcare can be complicated, so ongoing training is key to keeping representatives up-to-speed on Medicare and plan benefits.
- Was there anything that surprised you or that you wish you knew before you joined? “Many people focus on the monthly premium and doctor visit copay when they make a plan decision. The questions typically come once members start using the plan benefits for their specific healthcare needs,” said Batteer, explaining why personal experience can be so helpful to hear.
Research conducted by SCAN earlier this year revealed that less than 20 percent of seniors rely on recommendations from family and friends when making this important decision. Slightly more depend on physician recommendations, and about half turn to healthcare brokers for guidance. “Third party sources and company literature are fine; but like any other buying decision, nothing tops firsthand experience and testimony,” Batteer says. “Plans should welcome this examination and invite this kind of dialogue.”
The annual enrollment period for selecting a Medicare Advantage plan runs from October 15 to December 7, 2015. During this time seniors and others on Medicare may choose to switch their health plan or move from traditional Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan (or move back to Original Medicare) with their new elections taking effect January 1, 2016.
In 2016 SCAN will be available to Medicare-eligible beneficiaries in 12 California counties: Los Angeles, Marin, Napa, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Joaquin, Santa Clara, Sonoma and Ventura. SCAN has earned a 4.5-star rating* in all of these counties.
SCAN is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plans, currently serving approximately 170,000 members. Further information about SCAN may be obtained at scanhealthplan.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/scanhealthplan.
SCAN Health Plan is an HMO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in SCAN Health Plan depends on contract renewal. * 4.5-star rating applies to all plans offered by SCAN Health Plan (HMO) in California except Healthy At Home (HMO SNP) and VillageHealth (HMO SNP/HMO POS-SNP). Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5-star rating system. Star ratings are calculated each year and may change from one year to the next.
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