CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Medicare beneficiaries looking to expand their Medicare coverage can now look to BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee for new alternatives to address their health care needs. With the introduction of BlueAdvantage and BlueAdvantagePlus, BlueCross has entered the highly anticipated Medicare Advantage market.

Beginning Nov. 15, more than 900,000 Tennesseans with Medicare Part A and B coverage are eligible to enroll in the BlueAdvantage plans. The plans, which expand traditional Medicare coverage and add new benefits like prescription drug coverage, are available at a lower cost for most beneficiaries than existing Medicare supplement (Medigap) policies.

“Senior and disabled beneficiaries all across the country and in Tennessee are about to experience a significant shift in their health care coverage,” said Sylvia Sherrill, vice president of Medicare Advantage for BlueCross. “Not only are the choices for seniors expanding, but private insurance companies like BlueCross are entering the Medicare marketplace and bringing with them more benefits and financial protection.”

Benefit highlights of BlueAdvantage include the choice of any doctor, specialist, or hospital, no referrals, no deductibles, flat copays like $20 doctor office visits, and most preventive services covered at 100 percent. Additional benefits not offered by original Medicare include services like preventive dental, $5 copay for routine physicals, and worldwide coverage for emergency and urgent care.

BlueAdvantagePlus combines all the benefits of the BlueAdvantage plan with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. Beneficiaries pay just one monthly premium for the additional drug coverage. There are no deductibles, copays as low as $8 for generic drugs, and convenient prescription mail order service.

According to Sherrill, premiums, out-of-pocket expenses and benefits can vary significantly among insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage products; therefore, seniors should compare the choices available in their areas to find a plan that best fits their needs.

“With more choice comes the need for more knowledge about what’s available to consumers. Education will be vital to the successful transition into this new Medicare health model,” Sherrill said. “To assist seniors with these changes in their Medicare coverage, we’re using a team of Medicare Advocates to answer their questions.”

A dedicated team of BlueCross Medicare Advocates has been trained to assist in this intense educational outreach effort. Besides fanning out across the state to address seniors in face-to-face town hall meetings, the Medicare Advocates will be available to advise beneficiaries over the phone and navigate them through the Medicare maze.

Medicare beneficiaries interested in learning more about BlueAdvantage or BlueAdvantagePlus can call 1-800-292-5146 or (TTY/TDD) 1-877-664-6422.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.