PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) presents nearly a quarter of Rhode Island’s population with important health insurance opportunities and decisions. But the choices are easier thanks to having a locally based insurer, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI), whose plans have more members than any other insurer in the state and once again feature the comprehensive benefits that have made them so popular.
The Medicare AEP runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, but there’s no need for Rhode Islanders to wait to choose a health plan if they need one or want to switch right now. That’s because BCBSRI has a 5-Star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)* that permits enrollment in any of its 2023 Medicare plans throughout the year, until Nov. 30, and members who are pleased with their Blue Cross coverage can simply allow their plans to automatically renew for 2024.
BCBSRI’s Medicare Advantage plans offer affordable and convenient features that have members renewing their plans year after year, including flexible benefit cards that help pay for a variety of healthcare expenses. BCBSRI also continues to address social determinants of health–-factors that affect health, but which fall outside traditional medical services–-through benefits related to fitness, transportation, and household help.
Affordable, nutritious food is another important health factor. BCBSRI has continued to enhance these benefits in its plans, especially BlueRI for Duals (HMO D-SNP), which provides coverage for some of Rhode Island’s most vulnerable population–individuals who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. Entering its third year in 2024, BlueRI for Duals includes enhanced grocery and delivery benefits for those who qualify for a Low Income Subsidy (LIS)**, in collaboration with Millonzi Fine Catering.
“Health insurance is essential to getting care when needed and improving overall well-being. This is an important time of year for seniors who might be considering their health coverage options,” said Melissa Cummings, executive vice president and chief customer officer for BCBSRI. “Fortunately, Blue Cross has a wide range of Medicare Advantage plans with $0 benefits and conveniences that continue to offer unbeatable value. We also have Your Blue Store locations across the state, including our newest location in Narragansett, where you can have face-to-face conversations with one of our local associates who can expertly answer your questions and guide you through the process.”
Members who are satisfied with their current Blue Cross coverage don’t need to take any action because their plan will be automatically renewed for Jan. 1.
For 2024, BCBSRI continues to offer these great benefits and features:
- BlueCHiP for Medicare Value (HMO-POS): The most popular Medicare Advantage plan in Rhode Island***, this is ideally suited for those looking to save money with a $0 premium****, and many no-cost benefits, including $0 primary care visits, $0 labs and X-rays, and $0 generic drugs with no pharmacy deductible. This plan also has $0 preventive and comprehensive coverage for dental, hearing aids starting at $0 on top of $0 routine hearing coverage, plus $200 for vision hardware and $0 vision care coverage. This plan also includes a $175 Flexible Benefit Card to pay for additional covered dental and hearing services and copays, along with $60/quarter for over-the-counter (OTC) everyday health items.
- HealthMate for Medicare (PPO): Offers a wide national network and freedom to choose doctors, plus no referrals, $0 generic drugs with no pharmacy deductible plus gap coverage, a $5,000 combined out-of-pocket maximum, flat-dollar copays for in-and out-of-network benefits (on most services), $0 preventive and comprehensive dental with a $2,000 benefit (including crowns), hearing aids starting at $0 on top of $0 routine hearing coverage, and $300 for vision hardware and $0 vision care coverage. This plan also includes a $250 Flexible Benefit Card to pay for additional covered dental and hearing services and copays, plus $75 a quarter for OTC everyday health items.
Both plans come with a Preferred Insulins program featuring a $20 copay for a 30-day supply and $50 for a 90-day supply, a $0 national gym benefit, $0 meal deliveries after hospital and skilled nursing facility (SNF) stays, $0 virtual doctor visits, $0 dietitian visits, plus reimbursements for wellness and caregiving help.
Benefits are even greater in a plan designed specifically for those who are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid:
- BlueRI for Duals (HMO D-SNP): A $0 plan with $0 doctor and hospital visits; $0 Part D prescription drugs for those who qualify for LIS; and $0 dental (with a $3,000 benefit that includes dentures, implants, and crowns), hearing (with $0 hearing aids), and vision (with $300 for hardware). The Flexible Benefit Card includes $1,500/year for additional covered dental and hearing services and copays, plus $160/month for groceries (for those who qualify) and OTC everyday health items. This plan features a care model customized to meet individual needs and is unique in Rhode Island for providing access to a Medicaid specialist to assist with renewal, along with a health navigator to help coordinate the member’s care team. Other benefits include a $200 wellness reimbursement, private rides, and meal deliveries.
Rhode Islanders can learn more about BCBSRI’s Medicare Advantage plans for 2024 through the following:
- Go to bcbsri.com/medicare
- Attend a virtual or in-person informational meeting by scheduling an appointment or registering at bcbsri.com/events/medicare
- Visit one of our five Your Blue Store℠ locations:
- Cowesett Corners, 300 Quaker Lane, Warwick
- Highland Commons, 71 Highland Avenue, East Providence
- Lincoln Commons, 622 George Washington Highway, Lincoln
- Marshalls Plaza, 1400 Oaklawn Avenue, Cranston
- Salt Pond Shopping Center, 91 Point Judith Rd., Narragansett
- BCBSRI members may call the Medicare Concierge team at (401) 277-2958 or 1-800-267-0439 (TTY: 711). Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to noon. (Open seven days a week, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., October 1 – March 31.) There is an automated answering system outside of these hours.
- Non-members may call the Medicare Sales team at 1-800-505-2583 (TTY: 711). Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.; Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to noon. (Open seven days a week, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., October 1 – March 31.) There is an automated answering system outside of these hours.
* Every year, Medicare evaluates plans based on a 5- star rating system.
** Not everyone may qualify. Eligibility requirements must be met.
***Based on market calculations from CMS: Monthly Enrollment by CPSC, Report Period 2023-08
**** You must continue to pay your Part B premium.
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island is an HMO and PPO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island depends on contract renewal.