Thursday, August 17, 2000

HMO dilemma addressed


ProSeniors to sponsor meetings about options

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        With thousands of seniors facing the loss of their Medicare HMO coverage next year, the Tristate advocacy group ProSeniors will hold two meetings next week to help people sort through their options.

        The meetings will feature William Hambley, a ProSeniors attorney who specializes in Medicare issues. The sessions will be at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Maple Knoll Senior Center, 11199 Springfield Pike, Springdale.

        “We've been getting a lot of calls from seniors asking what they should do. What we're really worried about is that some people are jumping too soon,” said Garlinn Story, ProSeniors executive director.

        Earlier this year, three of the five Medicare HMOs operating in Greater Cincinnati announced they will pull out of the market effective Jan. 1: Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Humana and PacifiCare.

        Two Medicare HMOs will remain in business, offered by United HealthCare and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

        Seniors being dropped from an HMO have several options, including switching to another HMO or buying standard Medicare supplemental insurance. However, many experts have been advising seniors to wait until at least October before attempting to rearrange their coverage.

        Trying to switch into some types of plans too soon could expose seniors to pre-existing condition exclusions. Also, next year's rates and benefits from the two surviving HMOs won't be public until at least mid-September.

        To reserve a space for the no-cost meetings, call 345-4160, ext. 225.

       



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