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Generally, Medicare is available for people age 65 or older, younger people with disabilities and people with end-stage kidney disease. If you qualify for Medicare, you can review your health insurance options during Medicare Open Enrollment.

Some people choose to receive their Medicare benefits through a Medicare Advantage health plan.  If you’re considering Medicare Advantage, pay attention to whether you are choosing a plan that includes your current providers and hospitals at Atrium Health.

Key dates for Medicare Open Enrollment:

Open enrollment begins
October 15, 2021
Open enrollment ends
December 7, 2021
Coverage begins
Janurary 1, 2022

During Open Enrollment, newly eligible and existing Medicare patients can review coverage options and choose to:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage (or vice versa)
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Add or change Medicare prescription drug plans
  • Make no changes to current Medicare coverage

Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage

Learn about the 2 types of Medicare programs and what makes Medicare Advantage different.

Original Medicare

Original Medicare is the traditional Medicare program, where the government pays directly for the healthcare services you receive. You can go to any doctor or hospital that takes Medicare in the U.S. and buy supplemental coverage to help pay out-of-pocket costs.

Original Medicare includes:

  • Part A (inpatient/hospital coverage)
  • Part B (outpatient/medical coverage)

You can add:

  • Part D (prescription drug coverage)
  • Supplemental coverage / Medigap

Medicare Advantage

Instead of Original Medicare, you can get your Medicare benefits from a Medicare Advantage Plan, also known as Medicare Part C. Medicare Advantage bundles the coverage you get under Original Medicare and can include additional benefits.

Medicare Advantage includes:

  • Part A (inpatient/hospital coverage)
  • Part B (outpatient/medical coverage)

Most plans also include:

  • Part D (prescription drug coverage)
  • Extra benefits (routine dental, hearing and vision care)

Which plans include Atrium Health providers in their networks?

Under Medicare Advantage, you usually need to go to doctors and hospitals in your plan’s network in order to limit your out-of-pocket costs. Plans that include Atrium Health are:

  • AllWell South Carolina from Absolute Total Care
  • Aetna CVS Health (NC, SC)
  • ApexHealth (This is a new plan being offered for the first time during 2021 open enrollment)
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of SC
  • Blue Medicare from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina
  • Cigna Medicare Advantage (formerly Cigna HealthSpring)
  • Humana Medicare Advantage (NC, SC)
  • United Healthcare Medicare Advantage (including AARP plans)
  • Wellcare (NC, SC)

Please note that not all plans are offered in each county. Consider choosing a plan in your county that includes Atrium Health doctors and hospitals as part of its network.

Learn which health insurance plans Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist accepts.

Learn more about Medicare.

Why choose a plan that includes Atrium Health?

If you already have an Atrium Health doctor or hospital you prefer, you may want to pick a plan that includes them. This lets you continue seeing them, while better managing your healthcare costs. In addition to your doctor and hospital, you get seamless connection to Atrium Health’s vast care options. A few highlights include:

  • Unmatched, world-class care from the region’s only nationally ranked health system which includes Levine Cancer Institute, Sanger Heart & Vascular Institute, Musculoskeletal Institute and more
  • Primary care from the region’s preferred provider, including family medicine, internal medicine and women’s health 
  • The region’s largest network of behavioral health and substance use services
  • Convenient on-demand care options, like urgent cares and video visits
  • Peace of mind that when you get care from Atrium Health, you can more easily keep your out-of-pocket costs down

Frequently asked questions about Medicare Advantage

Medicare Open Enrollment is also known as the Annual Enrollment Period or AEP. During the enrollment period, newly eligible and existing Medicare patients can review Medicare coverage options and:

  • Switch from Original Medicare to Medicare Advantage, or vice versa
  • Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another
  • Add or change Medicare prescription drug plans
  • Make no changes to current Medicare coverage

After comparing the benefits offered by the various plans, consider enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan that lets you continue getting care from your preferred Atrium Health doctors and hospitals.

Not all Medicare Advantage Plans work the same way. Before you join, take the time to find and compare Medicare health plans in your area. Once you understand the plan's rules and costs, there are several ways to join:

  • Use Medicare's Plan Finder.
  • Visit the plan's website to see if you can join online.
  • Fill out a paper enrollment form. Contact the plan to get an enrollment form, fill it out, and return it to the plan. All plans must offer this option.
  • Call the plan you want to join. Get your plan's contact information.
  • Call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). TTY: 1-877-486-2048. 

When you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you'll have to give this information:

  • Your Medicare number
  • The date your Part A and/or Part B coverage started

This information is on your Medicare card.

Don't give personal information to plan callers

Medicare plans aren't allowed to call you to enroll you in a plan, unless you specifically ask to be called. Also, plans should never ask you for financial information, including credit card or bank account numbers, over the phone.

No one should call you without your permission or come to your home uninvited to sell Medicare products. Call 1-800-MEDICARE to report a plan that does this. Learn more about how to prevent Medicare fraud and abuse.  

Before enrolling in any Medicare Advantage health plan, you can confirm that your Atrium Health doctor is participating in the plan. You can do this by:

  • Calling the health plan to verify that your preferred Atrium Health doctor and hospital are in-network.
  • Calling your doctor’s office at the beginning of Open Enrollment to see which Medicare Advantage plans are in-network.
  • Visiting Medicare Plan Finder to help you understand the Medicare Advantage health plan options in your county, as well as see which doctors and hospitals are in-network.

If you’re happy with your existing Medicare coverage, there’s no need to do anything during Medicare Open Enrollment. But it’s always good to check that your current plan is still available and that you can continue to see your preferred doctors and hospitals.

You can continue to see your preferred doctor until your new coverage begins.

As always, if you have a medical emergency, go to the closest emergency room. Atrium Health hospitals provide services to all patients seeking treatment for an emergency medical condition, regardless of their health insurance plan or ability to pay for emergency services.

You can contact the Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP). They list available Medicare Advantage plans by county. Call them at 855-408-1212 or visit their website. You can also talk to your local health insurance agent.

If you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan during Medicare Open Enrollment and your needs change, you may not have to wait until next fall to switch plans.

However, if you signed up for Medicare Advantage during the regular Open Enrollment period, you can elect to switch health between January 1, 2022 through March 31, 2022.