PHILADELPHIA, Oct. 1, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Independence Blue Cross (IBC) today announced that for 2013 it will offer its Keystone 65 Select (HMO) Medicare Advantage plan with no monthly premium in all five counties it serves. The plan will now include coverage for emergency or urgent care anywhere in the world. In addition, IBC has lowered copays for primary care physician visits for all its Medicare Advantage (MA) HMO plans. Medicare beneficiaries can enroll in MA plans during the federally regulated annual enrollment period from October 15 to December 7, with benefits effective January 1, 2013.
"IBC has always been one of the most trusted health plan brands in our region," said Daniel J. Hilferty, IBC president and CEO. "We heard the concerns from our customers about the affordability of Medicare Advantage and we responded with a game-changing option. Now, with the addition of a zero-premium plan, we're confident we're offering one of the most affordable, high-quality MA options available today."
"In addition to the cost savings we're offering, we're excited to continue to provide extra benefits to help our members stay healthy, such as the SilverSneakers® fitness program, at no cost," added Robert J. Smith, IBC vice president of sales and marketing for government markets. "We look forward to talking with our members and prospective members this open enrollment period about ways to save them money and keep them healthy. We have more than 230 meetings planned to help people get the information they need to make informed decisions."
In addition to Keystone 65 Select, IBC will offer a full portfolio of Medicare health plans in 2013, including the Keystone 65 Preferred HMO, Personal Choice 65 PPO plan, prescription drug, and Medicare Supplement products.
The Keystone Select 65 plan has a robust network of hospitals, which includes most of the region's top hospitals. A list of participating hospitals is available at www.ibxmedicare.com.
Hearing, dental, and vision coverage
IBC's health plans offer hearing, dental, and vision coverage. Some are included in the monthly premium, and others can be purchased for $10 a month. IBC also offers BlueExtraSM, a low-cost supplemental plan that includes dental, vision, and hearing aid coverage — benefits that are often not included in Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plans. BlueExtra may be purchased by anyone who would like to have hearing, dental, or vision coverage in addition to their medical coverage, whether or not they are covered by an IBC health plan.
Enrollment rules and options
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) generally permits individual Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan or Part D plan only during the six-week annual enrollment period, from October 15 to December 7. Beneficiaries cannot change to another Medicare Advantage plan after December 7, however, from January 1 to February 14, CMS allows Medicare beneficiaries to disenroll from a MA plan and sign up for a Medicare Supplement or return to Original Medicare.
Members and prospective members can learn more about IBC's Medicare plans by visiting www.ibxmedicare.com or calling 877-393-6733 and signing up for an information meeting IBC will hold across southeastern Pennsylvania from now until year-end. In addition, beneficiaries can buy an IBC individual MA plan through one of IBC's licensed brokers or agents.
Some 'advantages' of Medicare Advantage
IBC's MA plans offer benefits not available through Original Medicare, such as wellness and preventive services, health coaching, care management, and Healthy LifestylesSM, which includes weight management and smoking cessation programs.
Medicare Advantage plans also help reduce unnecessary hospital readmissions, which the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services considers a national priority. In 2011, the Department announced a goal to reduce preventable hospital readmissions for all patients by 20 percent by the end of 2013 through its Partnership for Patients program.
A study published in the February 2012 issue of the American Journal of Managed Care and conducted by MedAssurant, Inc. and America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), revealed that the rate of 30-day hospital readmissions for Medicare Advantage patients is 13 percent to 20 percent lower than for traditional Medicare patients. AHIP credits the results to the increased help MA plans offer members to get appropriate follow-up care as they transition from the hospital to home, as well the plans' efforts to improve communication among care providers.
About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is a leading health insurer in southeastern Pennsylvania. With our affiliates, we have 3.1 million members nationwide. For nearly 75 years, we have been enhancing the health and wellness of the people and communities we serve by delivering innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneering new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers for coordinated, quality care; and supporting programs and events that promote wellness. To learn more about how we're changing the game, visit www.ibx.com. Connect with us on Facebook at ibx.com/facebook and on Twitter at @ibx. Independence Blue Cross is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association.
CONTACT: Laura Hanes firstname.lastname@example.org 215-241-2736Source:Independence Blue Cross