Breaking News
More () »

New Medicare plans, expanded markets, and reduced costs for Washington residents

Premera listened to its members and improved their Medicare Advantage options for 2020. Find out what's new and how it benefits you. Sponsored by Premera Blue Cross

SEATTLE — Open enrollment for 2020 coverage on Medicare starts on Oct. 15th. The enrollment process might feel daunting because you have questions or need more information about available options. We interviewed Tracy Bos, Premera Blue Cross' VP and General Manager for Senior Markets, who walked us through what's new this year with Premera's Medicare options for Washington residents. 

Medicare Advantage Plans: "Medicare offers basic coverage for anyone who is 65 or eligible by reason of disability. Medicare Advantage, offered by private companies like Premera, provides a little extra coverage, protection, financial security, for people as they are entering that Medicare year."

Reduced Out-of-Pocket Cost:  "As a Medicare Advantage plan, every year we file benefits and we change them up to offer the best that we can for our members. Every year we get a pulse on what the community is looking for and what matters to them. This year, we're pleased to be able to say premiums are really stable and we've been able to reduce some out-of-pocket costs as people go see their primary care doctor, and on drugs." 

Adding New Plans: New plans include the benefits of original Medicare, plus preventive dental care, routine hearing and vision exams, and free fitness memberships. "We think that that is part of our job of making health care work better as offering those things that really matter to seniors including the fitness benefit, or hearing, and vision. Those are huge."  

Premera has a network of contracted gyms, so with the fitness benefit, members are able to take their card to a gym and sign up for classes as of Jan. 1.  

Improved Provider Network: "I'm really pleased to announce that we expanded our network in Whatcom County to include Family Care Network, which we're really excited about. And then in Spokane, we're trying something new this year where we're launching two of our own primary care facilities. They're called Vivacity Care Centers and we're excited to be able to start seeing patients there in January." 

The expanded network means that people are likely to be able to stay with their current doctors, "Which, of course, is one of the most important things that a senior looks at when they're evaluating coverage.  'Is my doctor in-network?' and, 'Can I afford the drugs that I take every month?'"

Visit the Premera Medicare Website for more info: "It is a great place for you to compare our plans, and also if you're looking for a basic education on Medicare, it's a great place to learn the basics of what original Medicare is and what Medicare Advantage is as well as Medicare Supplement."

Premera Medicare Website allows you to see all the different plans available and gives you the ability to compare and contrast by services, cost, and coverage. 

How to get prepared in advance of reaching Medicare Age: "We offer seminars that we call 'Medicare 101' where we teach people the basics of original Medicare, the things that you need to consider as you're approaching that age and educate on the difference between a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Supplement plan. More information is better, and it may take some time. So I certainly encourage people to get started early." 

Have questions?  If you didn’t get your question answered today, you can attend a seminar or schedule a session with an expert near you. Go to premeramedicare.com to sign up or call to speak with a Medicare specialist 855-339-4101 (TTY/TDD: 711) 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., 7 days a week.

Medicare Open Enrollment period for 2020 coverage is Oct. 15 - Dec. 7.

Sponsored by Premera Blue Cross. Watch New Day Northwest 11 AM weekdays on KING 5, and streaming live on KING5.com. Connect with New Day via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram.

Before You Leave, Check This Out