Independent Health announces stable premiums, comprehensive benefits for its 2020 Medicare Advantage plans

Innovative benefits include non-emergency transportation, home-delivered meals, and Brook personal health companion app

BUFFALO, N.Y., October 1, 2019…Independent Health’s 2020 individual Medicare Advantage plans will include stable premiums and new benefits designed to help members get the right care they need, the company announced today.

““We want to make sure we offer value in every plan we offer. We’ve listened to the needs of our members and included additional benefits and services to help them get the most out of their coverage and help them live healthier lives,” said Cathy Aquino, director, Government Sales.

Independent Health will offer a full portfolio of plans with a range of affordable premiums and variety of benefits to meet the various needs of Medicare beneficiaries. The monthly premiums for its existing plans will be:

  • Encompass 65® Core HMO with prescription coverage – $65 (No change from 2019)
  • Encompass 65 Basic HMO with prescription coverage – $125 (No change from 2019)
  • Encompass 65® HMO without prescription coverage – $0 (No change from 2019)
  • Medicare Passport® Advantage PPO with prescription coverage – $99 (2019 premium: $95)

New Plans for 2020

Independent Health will introduce two new plans for 2020:

  • Encompass 65 Element HMO will have a monthly premium of $20, and
  • Medicare Passport Prime PPO will cost $215 per month.

Special Needs Plans

Independent Health will continue to offer two Special Needs Plans for the specialized care needs of individuals. Assure Advantage HMO Chronic Special Needs Plan (C-SNP) is available to eligible Medicare beneficiaries who have been diagnosed with both diabetes and chronic heart failure and reside in Erie County. Its premium will be $55 in 2020.  Independent Health’s Family Choice HMO I-SNP plan is for people living in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. Its premium will be $36.60 in 2020.

Premier Wellness Package

All of Independent Health’s individual plans will continue to include the Premier Wellness Package, which includes enhanced vision coverage, preventive dental, a gym membership, a hearing aid benefit, an enhanced wellness visit and a Telemedicine benefit.

A new component to the Premier Wellness Package is Brook, a personal companion smartphone app free to Independent Health members.  Brook provides support for chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension, as well as general health needs, with health coaching seven days a week, 365 days a year.

New Benefits

Independent Health will be enhancing its benefit offerings by adding specialized services to select plans as a way to help members get and stay healthy:

  • Encompass 65 Basic and Assure Advantage will include free home meal delivery after a hospital or skilled nursing facility overnight stay to help members to regain their strength and energy faster for better recoveries. These plans also will include free non-emergency transportation to approved medical locations coordinated through SafeRide.
  • An optional supplemental comprehensive dental benefit will be available at an additional $30 monthly premium on certain plans and will cover dentures, crowns, fillings and periodontal cleanings.

RedShirt Benefit Review and Expanded Medicare Information Centers

As in past years, Independent Health’s RedShirts will be ready to assist Western New Yorkers find the right plan to meet their health care needs.

“People have come to rely on our RedShirt Benefit review to help them make the right health plan decisions for themselves, because they have seen that we understand that choosing a health plan is based on their own personal needs and wants,” said Aquino.  “We have five Medicare Information Centers and four additional locations around Western New York open to help offer a personalized, one-one-one RedShirt Benefit review.”

Independent Health has renovated its Cheektowaga/Depew Medicare Information Center at 620 Dick Road in the Valu Plaza in order to provide expanded services throughout the whole year, including health and wellness education and activities inside its new “Health Hub.”

“We are excited to be able to offer a variety of programming from social activities to fitness classes to speaking with a pharmacist,” said Aquino. “We also offer face-to-face customer service help at our Valu Plaza, Orchard Park and Lakewood sites, along with our main customer service center in Williamsville.”

Aquino recommends that people evaluate their Medicare plan options based on their individual health needs, as well as the quality and service reputation of the plan.  The Medicare Star Ratings help consumers compare Medicare Advantage plans based on overall quality, value and performance. Each rating is based on a five-star scale — with one star meaning “poor” quality, ranging up to five stars for “excellent” quality.  The rating system measures Medicare beneficiaries’ experience with their health plans and the health care system. Independent Health is a 4.5 Star-rated plan in 2019.

The Medicare Open Enrollment Period, which is the time when most Medicare beneficiaries may choose and change plans, occurs between October 15 through December 7 for coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2020.

Independent Health’s Medicare Information Centers will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Additional locations around Western New York will be open during the annual enrollment period, in Lockport, Niagara Falls, Dunkirk and Olean.