By Susan Jaffe
Kaiser Health News
Only days after Judy Hanttula came home from the hospital after surgery last November, her doctor’s office called with bad news: Records showed that instead of traditional Medicare, she had a private Medicare Advantage plan, and her doctor and hospital were not in its network.
Neither the plan nor Medicare now would cover her medical costs. She owed $16,622.
“I was panicking,” said Hanttula, who lived in Carlsbad, N.M., at the time. After more than five hours making phone calls, she learned that because she’d had individual coverage through Blue Cross Blue Shield when she became eligible for Medicare, the company automatically signed her up for its own Medicare Advantage plan after notifying her in a letter.
Hanttula said she ignored all mail from insurers because she had chosen traditional Medicare.
“I felt like I had insured myself properly with Medicare,” she said. “So I quit paying attention to the mail.”
With Medicare’s specific approval, a health insurance company can enroll a member of its marketplace or other commercial plan into its Medicare Advantage coverage when that individual becomes eligible for Medicare.
Called “seamless conversion,” the process requires the insurer to send a letter explaining the new coverage, which takes effect unless the member opts out within 60 days. [Read more…] about Some seniors surprised to be automatically enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans