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Blue Cross Blue Shield Review

Friday, December 9th

2022 Medicare Advantage Plan Reviews

Blue Cross Blue Shield Review 3.5 Star Rating

Blue Cross Blue Shield

3.5 Star Rating
  • Easy to find plans where you live
  • May be called by a different name in your state
  • Your plans will depend on where you live
  • Informative BCBS website

BCBS, or Blue Cross Blue Shield, is one of the largest insurance providers nationwide. From family health insurance to Medicare add-ons and more, millions of Americans have a BCBS card in their wallets.

Main Site Has Valuable Resources

When you visit the main BCBS page for Medicare Advantage, you'll find lots of information to help you understand the coverage: what costs you should anticipate, like premiums and deductibles; limits and considerations; how and when to enroll. This site is a good resource if you need an overview of Medicare Part C before you start shopping around for a plan.

BCBS Site Will Redirect To Local Affiliate

At the top of the page, you'll see a box to enter your zip code to find coverage in your area. This is where things get interesting, because you'll be redirected to the Blue Cross Blue Shield provider that services your area. For example, when we looked up our sample client, an almost-65-year-old woman in Wisconsin, we were redirected to the Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield page. That site allowed us to enter (again) our zip code and county to view all Anthem BCBS plans in our area.

Might not get preferred physicians in network

Best Medicare Advantage Plans

Our "client" had four plans to choose from, with monthly premiums ranging from $0 to $27 and out of pocket maximums from $4500 to $7550 for in-network costs. Unfortunately, the preferred doctor was not included in the Anthem BCBS network (but was available through policies offered by one of Anthem's rivals). We liked that the Anthem BCBS site clearly spelled out which benefits were included with each policy and which ones were optional (e.g. dental, vision, or a combination of the two).

Premiums Higher Than Average

We had a similar experience when we entered a zip code for Florida with a high population of people eligible for Medicare Advantage Plans. This took us to the site for Florida Blue, and we were able to either explore plans or use a tool to help us choose (though the latter returned results that weren't exclusively Medicare Advantage policies, but also Medigap and prescription drug coverage). Even exploring plans showed us everything Florida Blue had available, which included 7 Medicare Advantage Plans. The monthly premiums ranged from $0 to $146.80 (the most expensive of any insurer we found) and had maximum out of pocket costs from $2500 to $6700. Unlike the BCBS plans offered in Wisconsin through Anthem, all of Florida Blue's Medicare Advantage policies included dental, vision and hearing benefits.

Reputation Varies By State

Of course, that means that reputation varies as well: a BCBS affiliate in one state could have an excellent track record while another is absolutely terrible. For instance, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida (Florida Blue) has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau and has been in business for over 70 years, while Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Wisconsin only gets a "C+" from the BBB.

Get Quotes From Multiple Insurers

We give Blue Cross Blue Shield a good recommendation for having a helpful website, easy links to find their affiliates in your state, and because most affiliate sites make it simple to get and compare quotes for Medicare Advantage Plans. But, we are also keeping an eye on the fact that BCBS' premiums were some of the highest we've seen, and that results vary depending on where you live. It might be wise to use a broker or referral service that can give you quotes from multiple insurers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield, to make sure that your coverage gives you the most for your money.

Where Can You Find the Best Medicare Advantage Plans?

As your 65th birthday approaches, it's time to start sorting through your options with respect to Medicare health coverage. Those options include several add-on components, one of which is Medicare Advantage.

What are Medicare Advantage Plans? Essentially, they allow you to take your Part A and B coverage and transfer their management to a private insurance company - often with insurers you may have already used in the past, like UnitedHealthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Although Advantage Plans come with some limitations - most require you to use in-network practitioners to maximize benefits, for example - they can be attractive for a number of reasons.

The Best Medicare Advantage Plans Compare Medicare Advantage Plans Compare Medicare Advantage Plan Reviews What are the best Medicare Advantage Plans Best Medicare Advantage Plan Reviews

Medicare Advantage Plan FAQ

Medicare Advantage Plans are a way of getting your Medicare Part A and Part B coverage through private companies approved by Medicare. These insurers have to follow specific rules in order to participate. These plans typically operate with an HMO or PPO structure, requiring you to use in-network providers for maximum benefits. Some customers appreciate getting their services bundled from an insurance company they already trust, often with extra benefits not found with Original Medicare.
If you have Medicare Part A and Part B, and there's a plan that is available where you live, you're eligible for Medicare Advantage. Bear in mind that Advantage policies are almost always network-based: if you live in another state during the year, your plan may not offer benefits in both places.
Yes! You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan either when you first sign up for Medicare A & B or during the yearly enrollment period from October 15 through December 7. Once you're enrolled in a plan, you can switch to a different one or back to Original Medicare from January 1 through March 31. There are also special enrollment periods for certain life events, like moving to a different address, losing your current coverage, or your contract not being renewed.
There are many differences between these two types of additional Medicare coverage. Medicare Supplement Plans, or Medigap, are designed to pay the out-of-pocket costs not paid by Medicare itself. These plans don't include prescription drugs, tend to have higher premiums than Advantage coverage, and you'll pay more if you don't enroll early on in your Medicare coverage. On the other hand, Medicare Advantage Plans are usually much lower in premiums and higher in out-of-pocket costs. Advantage policies often have prescription drug benefits. But, Medicare Advantage doesn't pay any of the costs that original Medicare doesn't cover. You can't be enrolled in both a Medigap plan and an Advantage plan at the same time.
That depends on the plan you select. However, one of the reasons Advantage plans are so attractive is because many of them do include dental, vision, or hearing benefits - or all three!
That also depends on the plan you choose. Almost every Medicare Advantage plan will still have out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions. When getting a quote, have your medications handy: many online quote platforms and insurance brokers will ask for the name and dosage, to provide you with an accurate estimate of what you'll spend for those specific prescriptions with a given Advantage policy.
Believe it or not, there are Medicare Advantage policies that have $0 monthly premiums. Of course, you get what you pay for - and if you want broader coverage and lower deductibles/out-of-pocket costs, your premiums will be higher.
That's a matter of preference. But, it can be helpful to start your search by using a website that offers quotes from multiple insurers, so that you can get a feel for what's available in your area. Many of these referring websites can walk you through the entire application process with any company you select, without pressuring you to choose one over another. On the other hand, if you already know which insurer you want - or maybe there's only one available where you live - there's nothing wrong with getting your plan right from the insurance company.
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Continued from above...

Think of it like an all-inclusive resort: you might give up some flexibility in exchange for knowing that everything is taken care of, from meals to entertainment, and you don't have to try and cobble together a plan for your perfect vacation. Similarly, Medicare Advantage bundles up a number of features, many times including prescription drug coverage and even dental/vision/hearing services, that otherwise you'd have to piece together on your own with separate standalone plans.

Medicare Advantage premiums vary by provider and by plan. It's possible to get a policy with $0 in monthly payments, but those tend to come with higher out-of-pocket costs like office visit copays and annual deductibles. It's also important to point out that you can't have an Advantage plan and a Medigap policy at the same time: you'll need to carefully consider your situation - anticipated health needs, your income and ability to pay monthly premiums vs. paying for hospitalizations and other major medical expenses, and so forth - to strategize which additional Medicare coverage you need and when.

There are two main approaches to buying a Medicare Advantage Plan: go directly to an insurance company or work with a broker. Buying your policy right from an insurer can feel more reliable, choosing a company you already know and trust, maybe even one that has been your healthcare insurance provider in the past. You can usually count on premium quotes to be the lowest possible for that particular company. However, going through a broker or a referral service doesn't necessarily mean you'll pay more - and you gain the advantage of getting policy quotes from multiple providers at once. No insurance company is going to tell you that you might get better coverage from a competitor!

Either route you choose, it's a good idea to do some research in advance: to familiarize yourself with the different Medicare Advantage Plans, their benefits and their average premium costs for someone in your demographic (age, gender, location, etc.). Otherwise you could find yourself feeling pressured to commit to a policy that might not be the best fit for your needs. There are many websites, offered both by brokers/referral services and by the insurance companies themselves, with helpful articles and tools to help you figure out what coverage is best suited to you. Also, be aware that in order to apply for any Medicare Advantage Plan, you'll need to have your Medicare number - so make sure you've taken the steps to enroll in Medicare before choosing your Advantage coverage.

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best Medicare Advantage Plans available today. We hope our in-depth evaluations save you some time and hassle - by providing the detailed information you need to select the best provider and plan for your coverage!

The Best Reviews of Medicare Advantage Plans