News Release - Choosing a Medicare Managed Care Plan - A Guide for Medicare Beneficiaries


Contact: Joe Martin, Communications Director
717-232-6787 or

Larissa B. Johnson, Press Secretary
Pennsylvania Department of Aging
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120


Harrisburg, PA - December 10, 2002 - On behalf of Gov. Mark Schweiker, Department of Aging Acting Secretary Lori Gerhard and Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) Marc P. Volavka today announced a new report to assist older Pennsylvanians choosing a Medicare Managed Care Plan.

"This new report will assist older Pennsylvanians with making some difficult and confusing decisions," Gerhard said. "It makes the process easier and provides information to better understand what's out there."

"The options available to older Pennsylvanians through Medicare can be confusing, and that's where we want to help," stated Mr. Volavka. "If you want to choose a Medicare Managed Care Plan, this report can help you decide which one."

One out of four Medicare beneficiaries in Pennsylvania are enrolled in a Medicare Managed Care Plan. Now, Medicare beneficiaries and their families can obtain a new report, jointly issued by the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council (PHC4) and the Pennsylvania Department of Aging, that compares Pennsylvania's Medicare Managed Care Plans, including costs, benefits, and members' satisfaction.

Choosing a Medicare Managed Care Plan - A Guide for Medicare Beneficiaries, lists Medicare Managed Care Plans by region, giving comparisons on monthly premiums and co-payments, how well each plan does on several quality measurements, descriptions of the benefits they offer, and the results of patient satisfaction surveys. The free report is available in a hard copy version upon request and can also be accessed on the Internet at, and, PA Keyword: aging.

Generally, Medicare beneficiaries can join a Medicare Managed Care Plan at any time. However, some plans do restrict their enrollment to new members from November 15 through December 31, 2002. If a person joins a managed care plan during this time, coverage will begin on January 1, 2003. While Medicare does require that a person enrolling in a managed care plan already be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B, joining a plan is simple - persons only need to request an enrollment form from the managed care plan, complete it, and return the form to the plan.

With a few exceptions, managed care plans are required to accept new members regardless of their health status. However, some plans may be limited in the number of new members they can enroll. The report advises seniors to check with the plan to see if it is still accepting new members.

Persons enrolled in a Medicare Managed Care Plan can also leave a plan at any time for any reason. They can leave a plan by simply enrolling in a new managed care plan - they will be automatically disenrolled from the old plan when the new coverage begins. Furthermore, enrollees can also leave a managed care plan and return to the Original Medicare Plan by contacting either the plan, the local Social Security office, or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

The report also notes that each year managed care plans decide whether to offer policies to Medicare beneficiaries for the following year. Plans can also change the benefits offered or the amount that beneficiaries pay to receive benefits. Furthermore, some managed care plans may stop offering coverage in certain counties or stop participating in the Medicare managed care program altogether.

For more information on Choosing a Medicare Managed Care Plan, please contact PHC4 at 717-232-6787 or the Department of Aging at 717-783-1550.

For more information on Medicare options, contact the APPRISE Health Insurance Counseling Program toll-free at 1-800-783-7067. APPRISE is a free health information counseling service designed by the Department of Aging to help Pennsylvanians with Medicare. APPRISE counselors are specially trained to answer questions about Medicare, and all services are free and confidential.