Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

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November 19, 2013

Seniors may have to check provider status

Seniors who have Medicare Advantage plans with UnitedHealthcare, including ones sold through AARP, need to confirm that their preferred providers will be part of the network throughout 2014, because of reductions the company recently made to its provider network, Indiana Insurance Commissioner Stephen Robertson advised Nov. 12. Medicare Advantage plans are different than traditional Medicare plans, because members are restricted to the doctors who participate in their network, so it is critical that seniors understand their options during the Medicare open enrollment period, which ends Dec. 7.

He suggested seniors call one of the state’s SHIP counselors to check whether their doctors will continue to be a part of their plans and learn about their options. SHIP, the State Health Insurance Assistance Program, is a free and unbiased counseling program provided by the Indiana Department of Insurance for Medicare beneficiaries in Indiana. SHIP is not affiliated with any insurance company and is staffed by a crew of volunteer counselors.

“Our counselors attend semi-annual training events and have up-to-date information available regarding Medicare coverage options,” said SHIP director Cheryl St. Clair. “I encourage everyone who is unsure about their Medicare decisions to call for help.”

Although SHIP counselors can be found statewide, SHIP’s central office can be reached at 800-452-4800. Information on its Web site can be found at www.medicare.IN.gov.

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