Akron General has forged a partnership to help local seniors pick the best available Medicare plan that includes the hospital in its network.
The health system recently started promoting a program called RetireMed as a free service to area seniors who are trying to sort through their options for Medicare managed-care, supplemental and prescription drug plans.
MB Senior Solutions provides one-on-one counseling for plan selection and year-round support with medical billing and coverage questions for free to Medicare- eligible residents, company founder and President Don Mackos said.
The Dayton-based company contracts with employers and unions to help their retirees select from among 50 plans that are included in the RetireMed network, Mackos said.
“The whole objective is to help guide seniors to the right plan for them,” he said. “We work with the retiree or senior to help them decide which plan is right for them, based on their preferred hospital and doctors, travel and medications.”
The services are free for participating companies and their retirees, Mackos said. MB Senior Solutions makes its money from commissions offered by the insurance plans that clients select.
About 20,000 seniors throughout Ohio have used RetireMed to help select Medicare coverage, Mackos said.
“Fewer than one in five retirees get medical benefits from employers,” he said. “In most cases, seniors don’t know who to go to for help.”
Akron General approached MB Senior Solutions about offering the service community-wide after the hospital successfully provided RetireMed to retirees and volunteers last year, said Carol Icsman, Akron General’s vice president of managed care.
“We get a lot of phone calls into our department from people asking which plans we’re contracted with and which are the best ones to choose,” Icsman said. “We’re not equipped to answer those questions, because it’s such an individual choice.”
Staff with the RetireMed program help seniors pick from plans offered by Anthem, UnitedHealthcare, Humana, Aetna, Mutual of Omaha, Coventry and Medical Mutual — all insurers that have contracts with Akron General, Mackos said.
SummaCare, an insurance plan run by cross-town rival Summa Health System, is not among the featured RetireMed insurers.
SummaCare’s Medicare managed-care plans have the largest market share in Summit County, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As of last month, 14,196 of the 42,344 Summit County residents enrolled in a Medicare managed-care plan were covered by a SummaCare plan.
RetireMed has sent out mailings to area residents with the Akron General logo to promote the program. The hospital also is raising awareness among its staff.
Bob and Fran Brackle recently met with a RetireMed representative for help reviewing their options for Medicare managed-care plans after receiving a mailing promoting the program.
Their daughter, who works at Akron General, also encouraged them to take advantage of the free help.
“It gave us a good tool,” Bob Brackle said. “It’s so confusing for older people to do this.”
After reviewing their options with the representative during a private meeting at the Akron General Health and Wellness Center in Stow, the Akron couple decided to stick with their same coverage for 2013.
“We were real pleased,” Fran Brackle said.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.