Medicare Advantage Kowalko

State retirees skeptical of new Medicare Advantage plan

Charlie MegginsonHeadlines, Government

Medicare Advantage

Rep. John Kowalko speaks before a crowd of hundreds of state retirees. Charlie Megginson/Delaware LIVE

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield has agreed to delay the prior authorization requirement on state retirees’ new Medicare Advantage health insurance plan by four months.

The announcement, made before a crowd of state retirees and pensioners, drew laughs and jeers from the crowd gathered at Goldey Beacom College in Pike Creek Valley. 

“How about delay it by 40 years,” one man shouted from the audience. 

Hundreds of current state employees and retirees gathered for the town hall event hosted by Reps. Mike Smith, R-Pike Creek, and Mike Ramone, R-Hockessin. 

The event was designed to help affected individuals and families understand the changes coming to their health insurance beginning Jan. 1, 2023. 

Here’s what’s new

State of Delaware Medicare-eligible pensioners and dependents who are enrolled in the Highmark BCBS Delaware Special Medicfill Plan with prescription will automatically transition to the Highmark BCBS Delaware Freedom Blue PPO Medicare Advantage plan with prescription through SilverScript effective Jan. 1, 2023.

Shortly after the change became widely known, some lawmakers began to warn seniors that they could lose their doctors or be denied services that are currently covered.

State officials insist that the plan will be cheaper for retirees while offering the same access to care — and even include a few perks, such as SilverSneakers, a fitness program for senior citizens. 

Attendees were largely skeptical that the plan would offer the same level of care for less. The crowd was especially incensed by one remark from Secretary of Human Resources Claire DeMatteis.

“It’s not public, but I will say it publicly: Highmark is prepared to and will lose money on this plan,” DeMatteis said, prompting laughter from the crowd. “All these health care companies are these big bad wolves until you work for with them and they’re there for us.”

Officials from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield were present at the event to address concerns.

For more in-depth reporting on the new Medicare Advantage plan, click here.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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