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Re: Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 331 of 638

Here's the latest news from my corner of the universe.  Last Sunday, Oct 27, 2018 I signed up with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona for Plan F, which is the plan I had with AARP-United Healthcare.  BCBS-AZ coverage will start on Nov 1, 2018.  I didn't give them much notice and they won't have all the paperwork processed for another week or so, but they told me that my policy will be in effect on Nov 1 and they'll send me the paperwork in the next week or so.  I got this story from the drug plan side of BCBS-AZ and the Medicare supplement people at BCBS-AZ so I'm confident that they are giving me the straight scoop.

 

Today (Oct 30) I called AARP-United Healthcare and told them that I would be leaving effective end of day Oct 31.  The person I spoke to asked why I was leaving and I told her it was because of the absence of SilverSneakers in their 2019 package.  I told her I had done a fairly exhaustive evaluation of insurance plans before I signed up with AARP-United Healthcare and I had every expectation of being a long term customer, but this changed only 3 weeks later when they sent me a letter saying that SilverSneakers would be gone in 2019 and replaced with something much less appealing.

 

Whether hearing this will have any effect on what United Healtcare does in the future is anyone's guess.  My guess is that the corporate weenies who run the show have made a commitment that works in the favor of United Healthcare and this will make them shine in the eyes of their superiors, so the chances of anyone making an effort to restore SilverSneakers are likely to be zero.  There's always the chance that someone with commonsense and the welfare of their customers in mind will rock the boat and try to restore SilverSneakers to their Medigap customers, but in my opinion it's more likely that the Moon will fall into the Pacific Ocean long before that happens.

 

An interesting insight was offered by the guy I spoke to at BCBS-AZ.  He told that he's talked to a good number of AARP-United Healthcare customers who are looking at BCBS-AZ.  He said they typically ask two questions.  The first question is whether BCBS-AZ has SilverSneakers or something similar.  (His answer is yes, they have Silver and Fit.)  The second question is whether BCBS-AZ has any plans to discontinue Silver and Fit in the future.  (His answer is not as far as he knows, but things could always change.)  So it appears that others are considering changing their insurance provider.

 

The price for Plan F from BCBS-AZ is a couple dollars a month cheaper than AARP-United Healthcare.  Their drug plans are almost exactly the same price.  There will be an inflation-cost of living increase in April, which has been 2%-3% for the last few years.  Later in the year in the month of my birth there will a second adjustment that is due to me being a year older (and probably not a year wiser but we'll see...).  He told me what that amount would be and it was the same as what I would have paid with my AARP-United Healthcare insurance, but I didn't write it down.  About $20/month is the increase that comes to mind.  When I hit 73 the age related increases will stop and I'll be paying full price, which currently is $260.38/month.  (I happened to write it down so I have it at hand.)

 

I began my experience with AARP-United Healthcare in September and it will be coming to an end after only 2 months.  I'm glad that I found an alternative that is the same price and has the added benefit of Silver and Fit, but I'm unhappy that I had to go through all this nonsense because United Healthcare decided to ditch SilverSneakers and replace it with something that isn't nearly as good.  It may not have been important to them, but it's important to a subset of their customers and we are voting with our checkbook.

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Re: Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 332 of 638

UHC its been nice but I'll search for another plan with Silver sneakers, my primary physician and the other benefits.

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Re: Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 333 of 638

So my agent came over yesterday and we discussed the different plans.  And I decided to leave AARP/United Health Care and go with Medical Mutual (Anthem).  The plan was 0 cost to me and I have better benefits including Silver Sneakers which I am happy about.  Then she went and saw my neighbor and she has the same plan.  So out of 3 of us neighbors two of us left UHC.   I am curious as to how many leave due to the changes.  

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Re: Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 334 of 638

Not any available in my part of California!

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Re: Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 335 of 638

I called UHC's 1-800 number and asked about Silver Sneakers being dropped for the AARP F plan.  I got the same story about the 50% payment for a membership, and we will not be able to go to more than one gym, unless you want to pay 1/2 of a membership at many gyms.  I also told them the only reason I had signed up with them was for the gym membership.  The gentleman I spoke to was very compassionate. I told him I would be looking for another plan that had the silver sneakers.  They are going to lose quite a few subscribers.  He said he would pass my concern on, and that UHC was having them document all concerns.  If you are concerned, I suggest calling 1-800-523-5800 to voice your concern.

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Re: Silver Sneakers being dropped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 336 of 638

We were able to find another provider with Guaranteed Issue that will include SilverSneakers, Humana Connect.  I have switched to Plan F as is my husband.  It is a little more than we would pay next year with AARP United HC, but with Silver Sneakers we will save money.  I planned to switch to Plan F before it is eliminated for new enrollees Jan 1 of 2020 anyway, so I just did it a year early.  The representative said it was unlikely we would pass medical underwriting even by AARP United HC which tends to be a little more lenient. AARP is requiring medical underwriting to switch to Plan G effective Oct 2018 if you are on a lower plan at present.  I understand that companies are within their rights to change extra benefits, but those benefits weighed in our decision to pick them.  I will avoid using a Medicare Advantage plan for as long as I can bear the extra cost of using standard Medicare and a supplement or gap plan.  Medicare is very easy to use.  Having been a hospital CEO and RN I can assure you that Medicare Advantage plans are great until you have a catastrophic illness and want to go to somewhere outside your network or need a treatment or test for which Medicare allows, but your Advantage Plan does not. Being able to do so saved my husband's life. Traveling and living part of the year in more than one place as many retirees do can also be difficult.  AARP should have had things in place for a Silver Sneakers replacement. They are working on it, but many zipcodes are not served with an alternate at present. 

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Re: Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 337 of 638

My apology about formerly being in HR. I read this quote but it was from another member: "I worked in a Fortune 100 HR department for 10 years, from which I retired several years ago.  The execs in that dept were interested in one thing:  cutting insurance costs"  This was not your quote and I do apologize for assigning it to you as you did not say it. I do not wish to knowingly include a falsehood in my posts.

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Re: Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 338 of 638

Hello everyone,

Please remember to post according to the community guidelines, and refrain from insults and inflammatory comments.

Thank you for your cooperation in making the AARP Community a safe and welcoming place for all.
http://community.aarp.org/t5/custom/page/page-id/Guidelines

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Re: Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 339 of 638

@goliath wrote:

First of all are you an employee of an independent health plan advisory service? If not, you are no more an "expert" on these plans than anyone else on this forum, despite being a "former HR person".

 

I've spoken to several independent health plan advisory services who say if you can afford it, stay on the Medigap plans as the "Advantage" plans that you tout, in the end, have many disadvantages, including cost if you develop a debilitating illness, and not being able to pick your own doctor or hospital among other things. They sound good but are not what they appear to be at first glance.

 

Once you leave Medigap for Advantage you may never be able to return to it if you develop "pre-existing" conditions as you must apply to the Medigap insurer you chose and be found acceptable to them, if you didn't initially sign up with them. The bottom line is we all need to make our own decisions but if Medigap programs can/will offer such benefits as Silver Sneakers we should take advantage of the offer and make our displeasure known if they later chose to remove the benefit. Most people recognize when they are being manipulated for additional profit, which is what this is. We SHOULD make our displeasure and our voices heard. I, for one, have had enough of companies whose only consideration is the bottom line.


I will respond to your points -

 

If you are speaking to me  - 

I am a senior, yes, retired - my background is in nursing and then as partner in my late husband's business - nothing to do with HR - we did have to buy our health insurance in the individual marketplace and never went without it no matter the cost.

 

The only reason why I am probably slightly more knowledgeable about Medicare is because I help other seniors with it - signing up, picking their way to get their benefits, picking the whatever plan, handling complaints about services, etc.  I explain it to them and they make their decisions - understanding goes a long way in working with the Medicare system.

 

Ok let's compare cost to the beneficiary in traditional Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan.

1.  Traditional Medicare has NO cap on out of pocket expenses.  A Medicare Advantage plan has an annual limit on out of pocket cost to the beneficiary - that is the reason some people like Medicare Advantage plans.

 

2.  Everybody pays the Part B premium (representing 25% of the cost of the Part B program). So no difference there.

 

3.  Yes, within a MA plan you do have to work within network of providers but since you can change plans every year if need be - it is not too much of a hassle.  However, MA plans are not everywhere - mainly due to the lack of providers within certain geographical areas.  In Traditional Medicare, as long as the doctor or other health provider accepts assignment - then you are assured that Medicare will pay their 80% of the negotiated fee - leaving you to pay the 20% or set amount depending upon the service.

 

4.  So you say, well, I will just buy a Medigap plan to cover my cost of Traditional Medicare.  What is that cost per month?  $100 per month, $200 per month, $300 or more per month - yes, that's right, your premiums will go up,up,up.

 

5.  Compared to a Medicare Advantage plan that may have ZERO monthly premiums or $30 or $40 perhaps even including the Prescription Drug Plan - which a senior has to pay extra for in Traditional Medicare.

 

Medigap coverage is for those WHO CAN AFFORD IT - only about 25% of seniors in Traditional Medicare have a Medigap policy.  Some of the others have Employer Retiree coverage, others who are poor have Medicaid - then others who cannot afford the monthly premium of a Medigap policy have nothing -'they just pay their cost out of pocket and hope some condition does not break them.

Traditional Medicare use to have a fund called "Bad Debt"'which they would use to pay providers for seniors that did not pay their share cof the cost - the deductibles, the 20%, Etc.  Obamacare did away with the "Medicare,Bad Debt" fund.

 

You can go back and forth between Traditional Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan all you want - there is no rule preventing anyone from moving from one way to get your Medicare benefit to another way of getting it - it is your benefit.

 

You are right, moving back to the Traditinal Medicare program from a Medicare Advantage plan depending upon the timing could prevent you from getting a Medigap plan or at least one that is reasonably priced if they rate you high.

But a Medigap plan isn't always in the financial borders of a beneficiary especially if their income is low but not low enough for Medicaid.

 

Medigap plans are for those seniors who can pay the higher monthly premiums for this beneficial GAP coverage - and that is all that it is - GAP Coverage.

 

When they offer extra programs like Silver Sneakers with no out of pocket cost to the seniors -'where do they get the money to pay the cost of such a program?

* * * * It's Always Something . . . Roseanne Roseannadanna
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Re: Silver Sneakers being droped by AARP recommended insurer

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Message 340 of 638

First of all are you an employee of an independent health plan advisory service? If not, you are no more an "expert" on these plans than anyone else on this forum, despite being a "former HR person". I've spoken to several independent health plan advisory services who say if you can afford it, stay on the Medigap plans as the "Advantage" plans that you tout, in the end, have many disadvantages, including cost if you develop a debilitating illness, and not being able to pick your own doctor or hospital among other things. They sound good but are not what they appear to be at first glance. Once you leave Medigap for Advantage you may never be able to return to it if you develop "pre-existing" conditions as you must apply to the Medigap insurer you chose and be found acceptable to them, if you didn't initially sign up with them. The bottom line is we all need to make our own decisions but if Medigap programs can/will offer such benefits as Silver Sneakers we should take advantage of the offer and make our displeasure known if they later chose to remove the benefit. Most people recognize when they are being manipulated for additional profit, which is what this is. We SHOULD make our displeasure and our voices heard. I, for one, have had enough of companies whose only consideration is the bottom line.

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