UCHealth has increased its in-network Medicare options for residents in the Pikes Peak region and across Colorado. That means patients will have more choices to determine which health care plan will best suit them.

Medicare’s annual open enrollment is Oct. 15-Dec. 7, for coverage effective 2021. During this time, anyone already on Medicare can change their Medicare health plans and prescription drug coverage for the following year.

This two-month window is a chance for people to review their coverage and decide whether to make changes, such as moving from one Medicare Advantage option to another or adding a supplement to original Medicare. Even if you’ve been happy with your coverage, it’s always good to review your plan to see if any changes are being made for the coming year. No one wants a surprise in their health care coverage or costs, and that’s why it’s important Medicare beneficiaries don’t let the enrollment window lapse and simply stick with the status quo without doing some research.

Some of the many questions that might factor in to such a decision about whether to amend your plan or make a change could be:

• Are the prescriptions I need on my plan’s formulary? And if so, what are the costs for medicines I need?

• Will my primary care physician be in the plan’s network?

• Which specialists, hospitals and skilled nursing facilities are in the plan’s network?

• Do I need a referral from my primary care physician to see a specialist?

• What if I travel frequently? Will I be covered for medical care received while outside my service area?

• What’s the copayment for a visit to see my doctor?

• Does the plan include services such as dental care, hearing aids or eye appointments?

• Can I receive the care I want close to home?

UCHealth’s newest additions include an expansion of Anthem Medicare Advantage options in Teller County as well as access to UCHealth under UnitedHealthcare AARP Medicare Advantage SecureHorizons HMO Plans in both El Paso and Teller counties, effective Jan. 1. Cigna Medicare Advantage also will be among the new in-network plans at the start of the new year for both Teller and El Paso counties. This means, for example, that any UCHealth hospital and urgent care — along with any primary care or specialist that’s part of the UCHealth Medical Group — will be in-network for those plans.

A complete overview of Medicare Advantage plans that are fully in-network at UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional Hospital and sold in Teller County effective for calendar year 2021 are:

• Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (HMO, PPO, DSNP)

• Cigna HealthSpring (HMO, PPO)

• Clear Spring Health (HMO, PPO)

• Humana (HMO, PPO, PFFS)

• UnitedHealthcare (HMO, PPO, DSNP)

All of these plans are also in-network at other southern Colorado UCHealth facilities and provider practices. The list does not include plans that supplement Original Medicare and Part D Drug Plans that may also be sold in Teller County.

Other plans and UCHealth in-network options may be available in El Paso County, and other health systems may have different in-network options. While it may seem overwhelming to try to compare them all, there are ways to help you find out the best plan for you.

When the enrollment period opens Oct. 15, an updated list of plans available in your ZIP code can be found at ehealthmedicare.com/uchealth. The site offers several tools — including a video Medicare 101 video — to help you choose.

Ron Fitch is the administrator of UCHealth Pikes Peak Regional Hospital. He joined UCHealth in 2018 after serving nearly 24 years in the military, where his last role was as garrison commander at Fort Carson.

The Golden Bridge Network bridges seniors and services through enhanced communication and process improvement in Teller County and neighboring communities. To learn more, visit the Golden Bridge Network Facebook page, email info.goldenbridgenetwork@gmail.com or call 687-3330.

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