California is a very unique State in terms of the options afforded its residents. In the same day, you can visit the beach, the snow, and the desert. We tend to expect this range of options in most things and Californian’s are very fortunate in your options for Medigap coverage. One of the main players in this availability is Blue Shield of California and it’s Medicare plans. Let’s take a closer look at Blue Shield of California Medigap offerings and how it competes in the market.
First, we need a little explanation on the Blue Shield of California and it’s relationship with the Blue Cross Blue Shield parent and it’s competitor, Blue Cross of California. For individual and family plans (including California Medicare supplement plans for seniors), Blue Shield is a competitor of Blue Cross of California. They do not work together which is quite different than most (if not all) other States in the U.S. where they traditionally are one company and share costs with each other. Blue Shield of California has its own California Medigap plans separate from Blue Cross of California but both are still part of the BCBS association and participate in the Blue Card network. Now that we address that uniquely Californian wrinkle, let’s take a look at BS of California directly.
Blue Shield has a strong presence in the PPO California market and Medicare supplements are the senior equivalent to PPO plans in terms of how they function. What does this mean exactly? First, California Medigap plans afford a great deal of flexibility in terms of which medical providers you can use and how that is accessed. You generally refer yourself out and you’re also not locked into a geographic region. These are all hallmarks of a PPO plan. Blue Shield has a long history of working both with PPO plans and with Medicare supplements which is important. The PPO or Medigap model is very different from HMO and a company generally needs a track record or period of time to wrap their heads around how to make the product stable in terms of pricing over the long run. This can be seen with Blue Shield of California’s general Medigap rate stability and competitiveness on the market. We feel confident with them as a California Medicare supplement provider for years to come.
What California Medigap plans does Blue Shield of California currently offer on the market? The current plans offered are the A, C, D, F and K plan. The K plan provides more cost sharing but at a lower priced premium and this is the equivalent of a high deductible option (although different from the high deductible F plan in some key respects). The California F Medigap plan is by far the most popular not only with Blue Shield of California but across the State and the U.S. A is the bare-bones Medigap plan and C and D offer extra benefits above the A plan but not quite as rich as the F plan. In most cases, the premium savings is not sufficient enough to justify getting less than the F plan due to potential holes in coverage (primarily California Medicare Excess). Blue Shield also allows senior dental and Part D coverage to bundle with the California Medigap coverage for a complete protection package.
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