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Potential silver linings to Medicare plan cuts

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Seniors who are waiting anxiously to hear what their Medicare plan options will be this year could get a better deal than expected, according to an insurance expert FOX8 interviewed.

Two Medicare plans will no longer be available to Blue Cross Blue Shield customers in eleven counties in 2015.

In letters sent to policyholders last week, the insurance company explained it will not offer standard or enhanced Medicare HMO plans next year.

"Two or three other Medicare advantage companies are going to have plans in the areas being affected, so people don't have to worry about not being able to be covered," explained Ed Logan, President of Senior American Services, Inc. in Greensboro.

Logan said the details and pricing of those plans can't be released until October 15, but he is telling the numerous customers calling his office "there's no need to panic."

There could actually be a couple of silver linings, he pointed out, such as other insurance companies "battling" for those seniors to become customers by offering competitive plans.

He also points to the promise of a guarantee issue. Basically policyholders being dropped will be able to get coverage despite their current health or medical treatments, and that health status can't be factored into the cost.

"They would get the same just like you that are very healthy. The price would be the same and they're locked into a guaranteed renewable as long as they make their payments. So I think it's going to be a tremendous year for the Medicare advantage and Medicare supplements for people."

Lynn Kale is a current policyholder who was shocked to be told her policy, which includes her Silver Sneakers membership coverage, was not available next year. Silver Sneakers program offers gym classes for senior citizens.

"It's very frustrating. It's very difficult. You have options of supplement or the advantage plan and then you have all the different companies and all the different kinds of plans you can choose from," she pointed out. "It's confusing for anyone -- not just seniors."

She was told the new plan she chooses will likely cost more.

Kale said she and several friends will likely base their decision of a new plan on what companies offer Silver Sneakers.

According to Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson Ryan Vulcan, the two plans will leave Alamance, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Iredell, Rowan, Stokes, Surry, Wake, Wilkes and Yadkin counties.

Vulcan said they apologize for any inconvenience and know it's a confusing time, but she said more information will be released Oct. 1.

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