Notice about Medicare Advantage plan confuses some Whatcom County residents

A GroupHealth letter has confused some Whatcom County consumers who fear the company no longer will provide any Medicare Advantage plan in 2015.

“The GroupHealth letter can lead people to think GroupHealth is no longer going to serve them at all,” said Maureen Kane, the access services manager with Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement.

Worried consumers have been calling WAHA and the Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors since receiving their notice.

GroupHealth and other private insurers are letting their customers know they will discontinue some specific Medicare Advantage plans for next year, but alternatives will be available.

Medicare Advantage plans being dropped include:

• GroupHealth Cooperative Clear Care Vital.

• Community Healthfirst MA Pharmacy Plan (HMO).

Consumers who received notices that their plan is no longer available in this area have several options:

• Call your current Medicare Advantage insurance company to see what other health plans are being offered for next year.

• Contact a local insurance broker, who can advise you for free. Find one by calling the Washington Office of the Insurance Commissioner Hotline at 1-800-562-6900.

• Go online to


to compare plans and find answers to your questions. Click on “Find health & drug plans” to compare plans in your area. Or call 1-800-MEDICARE. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.

• Call the SHIBA Helpline at 360-788-6533 for free and unbiased help. Make sure to ask for a Planfinder worksheet.

• Learn more, including about sign-up deadlines, by going online to



The open enrollment period for Medicare is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, although there are extensions for those losing their Medicare Advantage plans.

The Medicare Advantage plans being dropped were corrected Oct. 9, 2014.