Patt Morrison for October 21, 2011

Anthem Blue Cross sings a different tune to Medicare Advantage customers

David McNew/Getty Images

The Anthem Blue Cross headquarters in Woodland Hills, California.

As of Jan. 1, Anthem Blue Cross’ Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will have to pre-apply in order to receive benefits, an announcement that was equally disturbing as it was abrupt.

Nearly 12 million seniors subscribe to Medicare Advantage, which provides them with the same Medicare benefits, but through a private health insurance plan.

As L.A. Times writer David Lazarus reports, Anthem customers received two letters in the mail: one commending their loyalty and another giving them the boot. Currently, Anthem offers universal rates across California – even though medical expenses tend to be higher in the northern part of the state, a business plan that is causing them to lose money. Instead, Anthem will localize its Medicare Advantage program into 13 regions, customizing each accordingly with varying premiums and benefits.

WEIGH IN:

What prompted the Anthem’s abrupt change in policy? Will customers remain loyal, or will they shop around for an alternative provider? What other options are out their for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries?

Guest:

David Lazarus, business columnist for the Los Angeles Times


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