October 15, 2018 07:27 PM
(ABC 6 News) -- A change in federal law is forcing hundreds of thousands of Minnesota seniors to drop their Medicare Cost plans in favor of alternatives.
Residents of 66 Minnesota counties, including most of southeastern Minnesota, will see the cost plans go away at the end of 2018. The plans will remain available in 21 counties, including Goodhue and Rice, due to a lack of other options.
The cost plans, which are essentially a hybrid between Medigap and Medicare Advantage plans, were popular in Minnesota due to their customizability and coverage, said Laurie Magnus, a specialist with the Senior LinkAge Line.
In total, around 320,000 seniors will need to change plans for 2019, according to the state Department of Commerce. Of those, around 195,000 will need to take some kind of action to enroll in a new plan. Another 125,000 are expected to be automatically switched to a Medicare Advantage plan.
"They can just go back to original Medicare A and B and not have any kind of supplement along with a Part D for their drug coverage, or they will have guaranteed issue into a Medigap plan which are the original supplements, they cover things better, there's no networks, you pick and choose what you want covered," Magnus said.
There will also be more Medicare Advantage plans, which combine healthcare and prescription drug costs into one, to choose from, she said.
Shirley Riley, a Rochester resident who is currently on a cost plan, said it will be a shame to lose it.
"Well, I knew with Blue Cross platinum two years ago, they were supposed to go away, but Blue Cross was fortunate to be able to keep it two more years," she said.
After thorough research, Riley said she plans to enroll in a Medicare supplement plan, but for those still unsure of what to do, she recommends reading up on the options and checking prescription drug coverage online.
Magnus said seniors or caregivers with questions about the changes can call the Senior LinkAge Line at 800-333-2433 or view new plan information on medicare.gov.
2019 plan information is available now ahead of the October 15 enrollment opening date.
Updated: October 15, 2018 07:27 PM
Created: October 15, 2018 07:07 PM
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