06 Nov Insurance Talk — 2021 Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Plans
Rex and Cheri have the answers. Listen here.
Insurance Talk — 2021 Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Plans
Cheri Martinen – Welcome to Insurance Talk. We are located in beautiful Central Oregon in La Pine on a nice, smoky, beautiful October day. I am Cheri Martinen from Bancorp Insurance, and today I have a very special guest. I have Dara Smith and Dara is from Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield. And she is talking to us today about Medicare, which is exciting because Open Enrollment is right now.
Dara Smith – We’re finally here. It’s October. We have to start thinking about what we need to do to get ready for next year’s Medicare plans.
CM – I know, we’re super excited at our office at Bancorp. We’re all ready, we’re taking appointments, getting people set up on their Medicare advantage plans, prescription drug plans, and Medicare supplement plans. It’s a lot. We want to know everything about Regence, what’s going on with Regence this year. It’s exciting.
DS – We are so excited about year two from a Medicare advantage perspective here in Deschutes County and all throughout the state of Oregon. We have been offering plans for many, many years. Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oregon has proudly served Oregonians for 79 years as a local taxpaying nonprofit health plan. For 2021, Regence offers a range of high value, cost effective Medicare coverage options to supplement Medicare coverage that you received from the government. Our options are available to meet diverse care needs, budgets, and lifestyles. And as you mentioned, you can enroll in a Regence plan during Medicare’s annual election period, October 15th through December 7th.
CM – And that is why we are making appointments right now. It’s between October 15th and December 7th. Don’t wait until December 7th, call us now at 1-800-452-6826. We are very blessed here in Central Oregon to have wonderful plans offered with all different types of benefits. And that’s actually some of the fun stuff we’re going to go over today for Regence.
Regence Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Plans
DS – When it comes to 2021, we’re excited because we have some new things. Some of the highlights that I want to really talk about are our prescription drug copays are as low as $0 for preferred generic drugs. And we have discounted copays for three month supplies on generic and preferred brand medications. We also have this fantastic prepaid card. It’s $40 to use every three months for over-the-counter health items and discounts.
CM – That’s like when you get sick and you need to get cold medicine that’s over-the-counter, or maybe you have a rash and you need to get rash cream that’s also over-the-counter, that kind of stuff?
DS – Exactly. Those are the qualified items that we have from a wide range of different retail locations. And you can also order them online if you’re not getting out and shopping right now.
CM – Which is awesome because then they’re just delivered right to your door.
DS – Yes, very convenient. And we feel that this is a way to stay healthy overall. This is one of the key themes with what we’re up to this year. We are doing our best to enhance plan benefits that address needs beyond physical health, including the drug benefit that I mentioned, but also help with nutritional support, combating the social isolationism that we’re all experiencing here because of the global pandemic, and really promoting things like independent living for our seniors.
Medicare Dental Coverage
CM – And actually one of the other ones that you didn’t mention that we’re excited about is the dental benefit that you guys are offering. They have the vision and hearing too, don’t think they left those out, but it takes all of those to make a healthy person. You want to be able to see, hear, and eat without pain, right? You want to be able to have those things easily.
DS – That’s right. So we have a $0 copay for preventative dental, routine vision, and hearing exams. And that includes hearing aid coverage and a vision hardware allowance. So we know the importance of all of those aspects of your health. We’re not just focused on ensuring that you can go to the doctor and hospital.
CM – Even though those are important. And we’ll talk about that later.
Fresh Meals for Qualifying Members
DS – We have a continuation of a program that we started last year. It’s through a partner of ours called Mom’s Meals. They prepare fresh food and those meals are delivered at no cost for qualifying members with a chronic condition after a hospital stay, and that’s something we’ve had in our benefits for some time. We have expanded that to introduce a benefit that supports people through managing their chronic conditions. Meals can be tailored to specific nutrition and health needs. For example, diabetes friendly, gluten-free, low sodium meals. We have had such great feedback from our members about this program and also the caregivers, because it allows people who may not be able to cook or know what to cook if they’re recently diagnosed. My father was recently diagnosed with diabetes, he’s a meat and potatoes guy. He didn’t know how to eat healthy and eat like a diabetic ate. Something like this program is definitely going to benefit him.
CM – It’s really cool. These are delicious healthy meals, like you were just talking about, if you need to have a certain diet, maybe you don’t eat dairy or maybe you’re vegetarian, they’ll cater to that. It’s okay. You don’t have to feel like you’re just going to get a preset meal thrown at you. They’re going to make sure you’re taken care of for the food part.
DS – Exactly. It’s basically customized to the person’s needs. We all were really curious about these meals, so we had a bunch of them delivered to our office and tried them, and they are tasting really good. It’s not your typical Hungry Man dinner. It’s healthy, fresh food.
CM – There you go. If you guys eat them, I know we’re in.
DS – We are expanding that program this year. And I’ll just mention again, it’s a $0 copay for people that qualify to participate.
CM – That’s nice, as soon as you get out of the hospital, you qualify. So if you did have to stay and you don’t want to cook when you get home, because who does?
DS – And part of getting better is eating healthy so your body can heal, and that’s something we’re really focused on. The other program that I’m excited to talk about, and I’m going to say the name very clearly because a lot of people don’t get the name quite right: Papa Pals. This is a concept of virtual and in-person support and social connection for our members. We have trained caregivers who are often college students paired with qualifying members to provide up to four hour long visits each month, again with a $0 copay. We know that many people, particularly our seniors who are more prone to get sick, have been staying home and they have been isolated even from their family. Something like this is a really great way to connect. These pals can do everything from delivering groceries and prescriptions, to things like providing training on using computers, smartphones, and other devices, as well as simply providing a social connection to combat isolation. Phone calls or sitting down playing a board game, because there are ways to even do that stuff online. Regence is the first health plan in the Pacific Northwest to provide this benefit.
CM – We think this one’s really cool. We’re more rural and we have a lot of people that live in their homes. They’re capable of doing it and that’s a blessing, but at the same time, maybe the post office and the grocery store are the only places they go. And so having that extra piece of connection is great.
DS – We’ve all adapted during this past year to doing things online. There is an option to do this as a virtual program and we have seen success with doing that. We’ve developed that in response to the pandemic, you can still have that interaction and still touch base and see the smile of somebody else. We have been working very closely towards building this program up, have seen demos and have seen some of the pals, they’re located throughout the country. They are these energetic people who often have college majors focused on psychology or other majors where they want to learn. And this is part of their training. We have people that are really excited about performing these services.
Once we are able to get back in the world, they can do things like deliver groceries and prescriptions, and come to visit and do things face-to-face. It’s a really neat program. One other thing also available for $0 copay for members is the personal emergency response system. You may have seen this, the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” commercials from years ago. This is a modernized version of that through Best Buy GreatCall, that’s the company. They have developed this program that provides qualifying members, as well as their caregivers, with peace of mind and independent living. So you get 24 hour, seven day a week access to highly trained responders to help whenever needed. There’s built-in fall detection technology, and the ability for personal caregivers to sync and monitor device activity. It provides additional resources to help with transportation, and then back to those social things like food insecurity, and the isolation that many are experiencing.
CM – My grandpa actually had one of those. I remember he was showing off to a woman down the street that he knew. And she was like, “If you push that, no one’s going to come,” and he said, “Oh yeah, you bet.” He pushed it and they came.
DS – One of the best things about the senior community is their ability to talk about what they have and others get excited. And we see a lot of word of mouth things like you’re describing with our members. And we love that.
CM – It was funny. My mom’s phone is blowing up because he pushed the button. And then, of course, he was just like, “I had to prove her wrong.” Fortunately, that doesn’t happen all the time. Most of the time people use it appropriately.
DS – Most of them do, yes. Not all of our members are jokers like your grandfather. And actually, they have the ability to get the device from local and national retailers, again mailed to their home, and they can go to Best Buy if there’s one local for them. And it’s a really neat program to help caregivers feel comfortable with their loved one being at home alone.
CM – That’s awesome. You know what we were talking about before we got into this, too, was the alternative care.
DS – Yes, I kind of glossed over that and this is one of the things that I’m most excited about. So we are seeing here in the state of Oregon and particularly in Deschutes County, that alternative medicine options are really popular with people of all ages. So we have decided to include therapeutic massage, naturopathy, routine chiropractic services, and acupuncture within our benefits.
CM – I’m telling you, I love my chiropractor. That guy is magic. If you’re thinking about it and you have Regence, you should give it a try.
DS – It’s an alternative way for people to manage conditions that they’ve had. Again, I’ll use my father as an example, had chronic back pain for so long and finally gave acupuncture a try. And after three or four visits, it made a huge difference with him and his back pain has been really good.
CM – There are other ways besides just prescriptions that you can manage pain. And I think these are so important.
DS – Exactly. And the center for Medicare and Medicaid services has urged the Medicare advantage plans to offer this as an alternative to the opioid crisis that we’re in. And we were really excited about doing this because we have a vast network of these providers, both with our commercial insurance and now with our Medicare advantage insurance.
CM – So if you’re with Regence and you haven’t tried one of these yet, I would suggest giving it a try, at least the massage therapy. I mean, come on people, it’s a massage.
DS – Exactly. And it makes a big difference in your life whenever you have that access to alternative care.
CM – What else were we going to talk about? We had a long list before we got on.
Regence Valiance Veteran’s Plan
DS – We absolutely did. We have so much cool stuff to talk about that I wanted to also mention our Regence Valiance veteran’s plan. For 2021, we’re introducing a plan specifically designed for Oregon veterans and we love the name. We’re so excited about Regence Valiance. Our Regence Valiance PPO plan offers additional benefits and coverage that compliment VA benefits and believe it or not, we have a $0 premium on this plan.
CM – It’s $0. It doesn’t cost you anything. The best part about this is if you go to a doctor that maybe isn’t in the VA circuit, or you couldn’t get pre-approval from the VA, they’re going to help pay for it. It’s a no brainer.
DS – And you can get things like your drugs from the VA. The drug coverage is not included in the plan, but it gives flexibility to choose from a broader network of doctors, including behavioral and mental health resources, which we know are really important to many people during this time.
CM – And we were going to talk about your network, too.
DS – Yes, we are so excited about some network additions. We got great feedback here in Deschutes County last year about some additional providers that we needed to add. And so we’ve been that throughout the year. We’ve done it as recently as this month where we’ve added a new Deschutes family care provider to our network, but we have a very robust network here. That’s really important to us. St. Charles and the Bend Memorial or Summit Clinic are included. All of the St. Charles providers, the specialists, and then access to the hospital. Of course, we have the La Pine Clinic.
CM – The La Pine Community Health Clinic is in there. You don’t have to drive to Bend if you don’t want to.
DS – We really wanted to take a look at the entire Deschutes County and got that feedback from smart people like you, Cheri. And Praxis is also another key provider for us. We’re really excited about our provider network. We feel like it is very comprehensive. That is specific to the medical and the hospital network. We have a robust dental network, vision provider network, and then also as we were mentioning, the alternative care providers.
CM – So if they’re not in the network, you come to me and then I tell Regence, and then they hunt them down and get them in the network.
DS – And Cheri has proof that we actually listen.
CM – It’s true. They did it.
Additional Regence Medicare Resources
DS – So the final thing I really want to talk about is, regardless of the plan, all Regence Medicare members have access to additional resources and support at no additional cost. This includes our Regence mobile app and our online member portal, along with the Regence Advice24 nurse line that offers 24/7 access to a registered nurse via computer or mobile device. You know, Cheri, that most seniors actually have smartphones.
CM – Yeah I know, they’re pretty good with them actually. We have people in our office all the time that are using smartphones and you’re completely capable. And I will say the virtual visits, I think, are becoming really popular now. Since COVID, my family’s used three or four, they’re extremely convenient. So again, we’re rural, like even Regence says this is really out there. Maybe you don’t need to drive all the way in Bend to see that doctor, maybe you can take care of it with a virtual visit.
DS – Exactly. So all of our network providers can access our members virtually. And that’s something that we have included with our network coverage. It’s a great option, even in the winter months, when you just don’t want to drive. We have a great option there, particularly in this day and age when things have all become virtual. And the final thing I’ll say is that Regence members also have access to our local award-winning customer service team. Our team that sits in Medford is phenomenal. I’ve had the opportunity to sit side-by-side with our customer service reps, and the amount of compassion and care that they take in helping our members really is one of the biggest components of why Regence coverage really makes a big difference.
CM – And she has more to say, because she forgot something she was talking about earlier with me. And it is that Regence is local and does amazing things in our community. And they also give back.
DS – We really do. Because we are in this community and our mission is really to serve as a catalyst to change healthcare in our communities. Healthcare is very local and we make a huge difference in giving back in Oregon. Whether that be where our headquarters are in Portland or in all the corners of the state, we have a great amount of hours of service that we give to our charities and regularly give back and it makes a huge difference to be serving our population. I’ll tell you that my team and I, before the pandemic way back in January or February, spent some time working with a company called Store to Door in Portland, where we all went to a local Fred Meyer and packed up a bunch of grocery carts, and then put them into grocery bags for people to do food delivery. And there are so many programs like that all throughout our state, where Regence employees are giving their time to serve the communities. And especially when it comes to seniors, which are very close to my heart.
Silver and Fit
CM – Is there anything else? I was actually just looking at the folder and we forgot to talk about Silver&Fit. And that one’s a fun one because just because you’re in Medicare does not mean that you can’t be fit and strong.
DS – And we have a fantastic response from our members for this. Again, this is a $0 membership. We have access to 15,000 plus participating fitness centers and select YMCAs.
CM – Even here in La Pine, we’ve got them here.
DS – So if you’re not that excited about going to a gym right now, the benefit also includes two home fitness kits, option to get a Fitbit or Garmin device, and one-on-one weekly health coaching. There’s also online exercise classes through, I know a program that many seniors like, Facebook. Pretty neat way to ensure that people are staying healthy, because we know, back to that holistic way of thinking about health, people who are exercising and out in their communities, or just exercising at home if they need to right now, they are making a big difference in their health.
Contact Bancorp Insurance for More Information
CM – If you are interested in a Regence plan, come visit us at Bancorp Insurance. We’re located right downtown La Pine. You can give us a call at 1-800-452-6826. We are taking appointments right now for Open Enrollment, which again starts October 15th and ends December 7th. We’re doing our appointments all different ways. It might be the regular way you’ve seen us as face-to-face. You can come on in. We ask you to wear a mask. We’ve got some safety precautions on our desks with plexiglass and disinfectant. If you want to see us just virtually, we’re okay Zooming as well. So let us know if that’s the way you want to go. And then we also just talk to you on the phone. That’s a great way to go. Give us a call. You can visit us at www.bancorpinsurance.com if you have any questions or to make an appointment. Is there anything else I’m missing?
DS – I think we covered it all. Can you hear how excited I am about what we’re up to for the upcoming enrollment period?
CM – Open Enrollment season is crazy and fun and exciting. And we get to see all of our friends and neighbors if they decide to come see us. This year is kind of weird so we’re hoping maybe we’ll get some more phone and virtual visits, but we’re excited to see everyone. The plans are great this year. I don’t want to give any big secrets away, but it’s fun. And if you haven’t shopped in a while, it might be a good time to look, because just like Regence said today, they have a ton of extra benefits that you can really take advantage of and you can use in your everyday life to make your life better.
DS – And one thing I’ll say, just as we’re closing, consistency and stability is really important to us. So I know that we’ve only been here for one year with Medicare Advantage, but we are really focused on being here for the long term, and are excited about making a difference in this community.
CM – If you haven’t checked out Regence, it might be a good time to check them out, come into our office. Thank you so much for being here.