In the coming open enrollment period beginning October 15th, fewer Oklahomans will have BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) as a carrier of choice when evaluating potential Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.
Data released in September by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) shows BCBS withdrawing from nine Oklahoma counties.
In 2017, BCBS served 17 counties – namely Canadian, Cleveland, Comanche, Creek, Garfield, Grady, Lincoln, Logan, Mayes, McClain, Muskogee, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Payne, Pottawatomie, Rogers, and Tulsa counties.
In 2018, BCBS will serve only 8 counties – namely Canadian, Cleveland, Grady, Lincoln, Logan, Oklahoma, Okmulgee and Pottawatomie counties.
MA plans are also known as Part C, Advantage or MA plans and serve as a substitute to Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B). Some MA plans have supplemental services, such as vision or dental service, otherwise not covered by Original Medicare. Some MA plans also incorporate prescription drug plans.
The data released by CMS does show some trends giving Oklahomans more MA plan choices. In 2017, as many as 29 counties had only one carrier of Medicare Advantage plans from which to choose. In 2018, that number shrank to 25; however, for these 25 counties, Humana is the only carrier offering MA plans.
Oklahoma’s Insurance Department estimates that thousands of Oklahomans received cancellation notices earlier this week.
The data shows the disparity between rural areas and urban areas when choosing between Medicare Advantage plans. Tulsa, Oklahoma, Muskogee, Logan, Lincoln, Creek, Cleveland and Canadian counties in 2018 will have four or more carriers from which to choose. In contrast, 13 counties will have three potential insurance carriers and 26 counties will have two potential insurance carriers. For more information, see SLN’s Oklahomans’ Choice of Medicare Advantage Plans Improves in 2018 — Disparity of Choice Remains in Rural Areas.
SLN Sources: CMS Data Source Files. Data excludes Special Needs Plans, Part B Only Plans, and Employer sponsored plans (800 series). Oklahoma Insurance Dept. News Release, Oct. 11, 2017.