Blue Cross Blue Shield has its presence in all the fifty states of the US, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico through at least one of its 36 licensee companies. It is one of the largest health insurance companies in the country which has built its reputation through experience, high quality of service and stability.
Apart from all the regular health insurance plans, Blue Cross Blue Shield offers various choices of Medicare options for Medicare beneficiaries. The choices, however, may vary from area to area depending on the local BCBS company operating in that location.Before you buy any Medicare plan or enroll into one, you should have a clear about the basics of Medicare and what are your available options.
The Four Parts of Medicare
The Medicare program was started by the government to provide health insurance to senior citizens at very reasonable rates. This program is funded and subsidized by the federal government. You become eligible to enroll when you turn 65. People less than 65 who are suffering from some specific physical disabilities are also eligible to get Medicare benefits.
The Medicare program has four main parts –
Part A – This part offers the coverage for hospitalization expenses, nursing home care costs, hospice care costs etc. This part is free for most members and are automatically enrolled into the program when they become eligible.
Part B – Outpatient expenses, doctor visits, lab tests etc. are covered by this part. You have to pay a small monthly premium for this part and have to get yourself enrolled when you become eligible.
Part A and part B together make up Original Medicare and have to be taken directly from the government only.
Part C – Also known as Medicare Advantage, this part has to be bought from private insurance companies who are authorized to sell these plans. You have to pay a separate premium for these plans which depends on the type of plan and company you choose. These plans cover all the benefits covered under Original Medicare and also gives some additional benefits that are not included under Part A and Part B.
Part D – This part covers the cost of prescription drugs. Original Medicare does not cover prescription drug costs. You may take this plan separately from private insurers or buy a combined Medicare Advantage plan with prescription drug benefits.
Medicare Supplement Plans or Medigap
These plans act as supplemental coverage for Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. These are sold by private insurance companies and can be used with Original Medicare only. You cannot keep Medicare Advantage and Medigap at the same time.These plans cover the deductibles, coinsurance and copayment amounts that have to be borne by you when you avail medical services through Medicare Part A and Part B. Medigap plans also give some benefits which are not covered by Original Medicare. You can buy a Medigap plan as soon as you turn 65 and have enrolled into Part B.
Medicare Cost Plans
This is another alternative way to get your Medicare benefits with some extra coverage.Sold by private insurance companies, these plans lower your out-of-pocket expenses when you stay within the network providers of the plan. Out -of-network provider services are covered by Medicare Part A and Part B. You may buy this plan even you have enrolled into Medicare Part B only.
Medicare and Medicaid Plans
These plans are specifically for individuals who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.
You have to contact your local Blue Cross Blue Shield company to get the detailed information about the plans available in your area.