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PMC offering Medicare Open Enrollment Education

As the open enrollment period for Medicare nears, Parmer Medical Center and the Friona Rural Health Clinic want you to know that the hospital and clinic providers may not contract with all Medicare Advantage Plans. We encourage you to carefully evaluate any Medicare Advantage Plan before you decide to give up Medicare, and to check with the business office at 806-250-2754 to see if the plan includes your local hospital and providers.

Medicare Advantage Plans are not Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans are insurance plans operated by private companies. Patients who enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan are NO longer enrolled in Medicare and must comply with plan rules regarding which physicians and hospitals can be used.

Medicare Advantage Plans are not Supplemental Plans. The name Medicare Advantage is confusing to patients because they often assume it is a Medicare supplemental or secondary plan. Also known as Medigap Plans, supplemental insurance plans are designed to work with traditional Medicare to cover the cost of deductibles and co-payments not paid by Medicare. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you cannot be sold a supplemental plan so you must pay 100 percent of any deductibles and co-payments associated with the Medicare Advantage Plan.

If you later drop your Medicare Advantage Plan and return to original Medicare, there is no guarantee that you will not pay a higher premium for a supplemental plan based upon your current health status and pre-existing conditions.

You can purchase a Medicare Drug Plan without enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan. You can sign up for a separate drug plan and keep traditional Medicare. Please note that many Medicare Advantage Plans also offer a separate drug benefit plan that can be used with traditional Medicare. Some patients who sign up for drug benefits may have unintentionally signed up for a Medicare Advantage Plan. Be sure to read your plan benefits carefully to know exactly what program you are selecting.

Patients with Medicare Advantage Plans may have to pay more to use many providers and hospitals, including Parmer Medical Center and the Friona Rural Health Clinic. Patients with traditional Medicare have the choice of seeing ANY provider that accepts Medicare, including Parmer Medical Center and the providers at the Friona Rural Health Clinic. The hospital and clinic, however, may not be in-network providers for many Medicare Advantage Plans. As a result, patients may not be able to use our services without paying more out-of-pocket than promised by the Medicare Advantage Plan.

Parmer Medical Center will be featuring several more educational articles during open enrollment. Additionally, PMC will be offering a free community education event focusing on Medicare Plan “D” on November 2 at 1:30 p.m. in the conference room at PMC. More information about the event will be published as the program date approaches. If you have any questions, please call Rhonda Wilkins, Director of Senior Services at Parmer Medical Center, 806-250-2754.