Cochise County Medicare Advantage Plans Canceled for 2014

Humana is cancelling its $0 premium HMO Medicare Advantage plan in Cochise County for 2014.  People enrolled in this plan should have received a letter to inform them of the plan cancellation and tell them their options for coverage.

Health Net is cancelling its Ruby 1 HMO Medicare Advantage plan in Cochise county. This plan has a $49 monthly premium.  Health Net will continue to offer its Ruby 4 plan which as $0 premium but higher co-pays for services than Ruby 1. People in Cochise County who are enrolled in the Ruby 1 plan have received a cancellation notice and should consider all their coverage options for 2014.

Guaranteed Issue for a Medicare supplement: The letters from Humana and Health Net announcing the Medicare Advantage plan cancellation will also tell people about a unique option they have for 2014. They can go back to Original Medicare and get a Medicare supplement with “guaranteed issue” – meaning no matter what their health condition they can get enrolled in a Medicare supplement. They would pay the premium for their age, but cannot be charged more, or be denied coverage because of their health condition.

This option to move to a Medicare supplement is not available to Arizonans who are under 65 and on Medicare.  It is only available to Medicare beneficiairies who are over 65 and losing their Medicare Advantage plan due to cancellation.

The Medicare Advantage cancellation letter would need to be attached to a Medicare supplement application. This is important for people whose health would generally disqualify them for a Medicare supplement or require a much higher premium. So losing the Humana or Health Net Medicare Advantage plan could create a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for some people who really should be on a Medicare supplement.

Medicare supplements (also known as medigap plans) start at around $99 per month for plan N and $142 for plan F.  The premium is higher the older a person is.  A plan F supplement is expensive, but it generally leaves a person with no co-pays for their medical care. Medicare pays first, the Plan F medigap pays second, and the patient has no bill.

Insurance agents often don’t get a commission for signing people up with this “guaranteed issue” medigap plan, so they are unlikely to suggest it – or they don’t know about this option.  Although this option is mentioned in the Medicare Advantage cancellation letter.

There will be lots of agents offering to sign people up for another Medicare Advantage plan in Cochise county, though there are only two $0 premium HMO options.  Most people will change to another Advantage plan.  But some people should consider the medigap option because it could be less expensive for them in the long run.

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