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Medicare open enrollment coming to a close

Updated November 27, 2018 - 4:02 pm

A few changes have occurred in Nye County in Medicare Advantage in the number of plans available in the local region, among other changes in existing labels known to area citizens. The clock is winding down on the time left to sign up for a plan for 2019.

A new Medicare Advantage plan provider has stepped into the markets of Nye and Clark counties: Hometown Health, which will start to offer its Senior Care Plus Medicare Advantage plan beginning in 2019.

To bring the new plan to Nye County, Hometown partnered with P3 Health Partners, a group that opened its first clinic in Pahrump and Nye County in late October.

Dr. Tracy J. Wakefield, president of the P3 Nevada Medical Group, the group that P3 Health Partners operates its more than half-dozen clinics in Southern Nevada with a total of nine currently in the pipeline for a group focused on population health management, talked about the benefits of Medicare Advantage during an interview about the groups new clinic in Pahrump.

Wakefield explained that, by law, Medicare Advantage plans have to cover everything that Medicare covers.

“There’s nothing they can’t cover,” she said. “They also add benefits on top of those traditional Medicare benefits, so they may have dental coverage, vision coverage.

“They usually have a transportation benefit so that patients can go to the lab or go to the pharmacy or go to the X-ray place to get things done. So Medicare Advantage plans, when you compare to traditional Medicare, are very rich on benefits.”

Open enrollment for Medicare is open until Dec. 7. For individuals looking to switch plans or providers, that can be done during that period.

Plans that have been in the market for a longer period are going through some changes.

The Senior Dimensions program is changing its name to UnitedHealthcare Medicare Focus.

For those already part of the Senior Dimensions program, there will be no changes, functionally.

Insured individuals in the plan don’t have to take any action for their 2019 plans if they’re already signed up.

The plan includes access to 14 hospitals in the Southern Nevada area, including Desert View Hospital and several in Clark County.

The plan also includes access to specialty services offered in the OptumCare Network of Nevada, of which Southwest Medical is a part.

Other area plans include Humana.

The number of people signing up for Medicare Advantage is on the rise, according to information from a spokesman for UnitedHealthcare.

“Medicare Advantage enrollment has grown nearly 50 percent over the last five years and now includes about one-third of all Medicare beneficiaries,” the spokesman stated in an email.

C.J. Bawden, sales and marketing manager for Hometown Health, said Nye County contains some 14,000 Medicare beneficiaries with about half of those enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. Hometown is a not-for-profit health insurance provider and is the insurance arm of Reno-based Renown Health.

For more information on Hometown’s 2019 Medicare Advantage plan, head to SeniorCarePlus.com or call 775-982-3112.

More information on UnitedHealthcare’s plans can be found at UHCMedicarePlans.com or by calling 702-838-8271.

Check Humana.com for information on that provider’s plans.

Contact reporter Jeffrey Meehan at jmeehan@pvtimes.com

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