What you need to know about Premier's plan to cut its insurance sector

What you need to know about Premier's plan to cut its insurance sector (File: WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - More than 9,000 patients across the Miami Valley now have to look for a new Medicare plan after Premier Health recently announced plans to leave the insurance business.

In asking about the decision, a spokesperson for Premier told Fox 45 that the move is part of a new three-year strategic plan. Additionally, the system will "we remain committed to our mission to build healthier communities..."

Effective April 1, 2018, the healthy system will terminate its Medicare Advantage plans. A 20-page packet was mailed to affected patients.

"It is confusing," said Don Mackos, President of RetireMEDiQ, talking about the mailed packet. "It gives them their rights, and they can do this, and they can do that."

Mackos' staff have extended operating hours to field questions and concerns from clients, who have a few weeks to switch their plans.

"I think we've scheduled well over 800, maybe 900 appointments so far," Mackos told Fox 45's Shavon Anderson.

Although coverage for Medicare Advantage plans ends on March 31, 2018, if patients do nothing, they'll be enrolled in Original Medicare with a Part D plan. Then, they'll have a Special Enrollment Period that runs through May 31, 2018.

So, how do you start finding another plan?

"It starts with making a list of all of the physicians, hospitals and providers that are important to them," said Rick Dunlop, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement.

Dunlop is urging people to note medications they take, and current benefits, before looking at new plans. He also wants people to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of Original Medicare versus Medicare Advantage.

"Original Medicare only covers about 80 percent of total expenses," he said.

That means some of the benefits you currently have could disappear, including predictable co-pays, out-of-pocket maximums and fitness memberships. UnitedHealthcare will hold more than 100 community meetings in the month of March, across the Miami Valley. A list of times and dates will be released by the end of the week.

While patients pick new plans, there are plenty of options to choose from.

"One of the things Ohio is known for is being one of the most competitive markets," Dunlop said.

However, the vast number of choices can be intimidating. Mackos doesn't want people to wait until the last minute.

Premier Health Plan said it intended to sell its Medicare Advantage plan earlier this year, but was unable to reach final agreement with the potential buyer.

If you have questions about Medicare in general, or looking for plan options, you can use the resources below.

  • 1-800-Medicare
  • The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP) at 1-800-686-1578
  • Online information with the Premier announcement here
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