BELLEVILLE, IL--(Marketwired - Apr 22, 2013) - Tens of thousands of Medicare Advantage plan participants are unexpectedly faced with looking for new medical and prescription drug coverage after Universal Health Care Inc. was placed into receivership April 1, according to Allsup, which provides Medicare plan selection services through the Allsup Medicare Advisor®. This affects approximately 40,000 Medicare Advantage plan participants in Florida and possibly tens of thousands more in Arizona, Utah and other states.
As a result of the business closure, Universal's Florida beneficiaries were automatically enrolled in original Medicare. In addition, if the plan participants had existing Part D prescription drug coverage, they were automatically enrolled in plans from one of four providers, according to a notice on Universal Health Care's website.
However, all participants have the option of choosing new Medicare plans through a special election period from now through Friday, May 31, explained Paula Muschler, manager of the Allsup Medicare Advisor®. Allsup's Medicare plan selection service offers personalized help that includes impartial, customized research and enrollment assistance for Part D, Medicare Advantage and original Medicare.
"This special enrollment period is especially valuable for former Universal participants to choose a new Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan that more closely suits their budget and health concerns," Muschler said. "Although your Medicare coverage will continue uninterrupted, you may be in a plan that doesn't truly meet your needs -- such as your budget or the medications you need covered."
Former Universal participants have just a few weeks to select their plans, which can include Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans, for those who had prescription drug coverage. Plans selected by April 30 will take effect May 1, and plans selected by May 31 will take effect June 1.
Five Questions for Those Choosing New Medicare Plans
Answers to the following questions can be important for those former Universal participants who are choosing new Medicare plans.
1. Must the participant enroll in original Medicare if she prefers a Medicare Advantage plan? No, participants have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan of their choice. "An Allsup Medicare specialist can help research your options and compare Medicare plans to what you need, before you decide," Muschler said.
2. If the participant did not have prescription drug coverage, can she get coverage now? No. "Unfortunately, if you did not purchase Part D prescription drug coverage, your special election period does not allow you to purchase a Part D plan at this time," Muschler said. "You will have to wait until the next annual enrollment period (Oct. 15-Dec. 7) for coverage that would take effect Jan. 1, 2014."
3. How does the participant's Part D coverage change? Someone who had Part D prescription drug coverage through Universal Health Care will still have access to Part D coverage. "But if you don't choose a Medicare Advantage plan that includes drug coverage, you may end up paying more to add a Part D plan on top of your original Medicare premiums," Muschler said. For more information on Part D plans, contact Allsup Medicare Advisor at (866) 521-7655.
4. Can the participant enroll in a Medigap supplemental plan during this special enrollment period? Yes. "The federal government guarantees your right to enroll in Medigap plans A, B, C, F, K or L if you're in a Medicare Advantage plan and your plan is leaving Medicare or stops giving care in your area," Muschler explained. "But it's important to choose wisely because changing your mind later can be costly."
5. How long do participants have to make a decision? Participants in Universal Health Care have from now until Friday, May 31, to enroll in Medicare plans of their choice. According to Universal Health, individuals who do not make a Medicare plan selection will automatically receive coverage designated as comparable by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid.
With the closure of Universal Health Care, Medicare beneficiaries may face higher premium, co-pays and out-of-pocket costs through their new Medicare coverage.
"It's possible you may have to pay more to receive coverage equal to what you received with Universal Health Care," Muschler said. "So the potential for your costs to increase is another reason to use this special election period to examine all of your Medicare plan options, and it can be much easier with the professional help of an Allsup Medicare specialist."
Allsup Medicare Advisor's affordable, fee-based service can help save individuals hundreds of dollars in healthcare costs by ensuring they are covered with Medicare plans that meet their specific healthcare circumstances and budget, Muschler said.
"You don't have to spend hours trying to figure out what Medicare plan is right for you. An Allsup Medicare specialist can help you get back on track with a new Medicare Advantage plan or a new prescription drug plan," she added.
For more information about choosing Medicare plans, contact the Allsup Medicare Advisor at (866) 521-7655. Visit Medicare.Allsup.com for an online presentation about the Allsup Medicare Advisor service.
Allsup is a nationwide provider of Social Security disability, veterans disability appeal, Medicare and Medicare Secondary Payer compliance services for individuals, employers and insurance carriers. Founded in 1984, Allsup employs more than 800 professionals who deliver specialized services supporting people with disabilities and seniors so they may lead lives that are as financially secure and as healthy as possible. The company is based in Belleville, Ill., near St. Louis. Visit http://www.Allsup.com or connect with Allsup at http://www.facebook.com/Allsupinc.