Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, a division of Anthem Inc., is an insurance provider based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The parent company, Anthem Inc., traces its roots back to 1992 and has gone through numerous mergers and other changes over the years. Anthem is on the Fortune 500 list in 33rd place at this time, and it has been on the list for over 25 years. Now led by CEO Gail K. Boudreaux, the company has recently focused on increasing its plans built specifically for seniors and for low-income patients. It has also worked to expand its pharmacy benefits and has built a partnership with the fitness company Silver Sneakers.
The Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance product catalog is impressive, with offerings for individuals and families, Medicaid patients, Medicare patients, and employers. The Medicare portion of the catalog includes Medicare Parts C (Medicare Advantage), D (Medicare Prescription Drug Plan), and Medicare Supplements (Medigap). Dental and vision insurance can often be added to Medicare options as well. Note that Part D can be purchased along with Medigap, but Part C cannot.
Anthem Blue Cross Medicare Supplement Insurance, also called Medigap, provides health coverage for the financial “gaps” that Original Medicare leaves. Medicare Supplement plans can cover a range of fees that you would otherwise pay when receiving Medicare-covered services. These plans don’t have health networks, prior authorizations, or any other hoops to jump through in most cases. The simplicity of their coverage makes healthcare costs easy to budget. With Medicare itself only covering about 80% of all your expenses after deductibles, a Supplement plan can provide the extra help you need at a reasonable monthly cost.
Medicare Supplement plans are always offered by private companies and are not run by or funded by Medicare in any way. However, they are tightly regulated by Medicare. The strict nature of the rules they must follow means that plans are virtually identical across companies. The main things that differ are the costs of premiums, the customer service offered, and, occasionally, certain fringe benefits such as discount programs or free gym memberships.
Restrictions for Joining Medicare Supplement Plans
The most important restriction to keep in mind when considering Medicare Supplement plans is that you must first have Original Medicare (Parts A and B). You cannot join a Medigap plan if you have Part C (Medicare Advantage) unless you are switching back to Original Medicare. If you’re not yet enrolled in Original Medicare and are confused about when you’ll be eligible, you can learn more on the official Medicare website.
There are some additional factors that may restrict your access to a Medicare Supplement plan. For example, if you have had Original Medicare for over six months but you haven’t signed up for a Medicare Supplement, then doing so now could be difficult or more expensive than average. This is because when you’re first eligible for Medicare, you have a right to get a policy without medical underwriting, referred to as your guaranteed issue rights. After those first six months, the company can usually charge you more or decline to cover you based on health conditions. Medicare’s website can help you learn more about your ideal time to sign up.
As mentioned above, all Medicare Supplement plans abide by strict coverage rules that are determined by the state you reside in. Most states opt to use the same system, a series of plans designated by letters that have varying levels of coverage. This set of plans can include plans A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N, but Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield offers only A, G, and N in most states. Plans F or C may also be available to you if you were eligible for Medicare prior to January 2020. We have not included C and F in the chart below since their eligibility requirements are so restricted.
|Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Medicare Supplement Options|
|Supplement Option||365 Extra Days of Hospital Coverage||Copay and Coinsurance Coverage||Deductible Coverage||Part B Excess Charges*||Blood Transfusions (3 Pints)||Out-Of-Pocket Spending Limit||Overseas Medical Care /Expenses|
|A||✔||-Part A -Part B -Hospice||✖||✖||✔||✖||✖|
|G||✔||-Part A -Part B -Hospice -Skilled Nursing Facility||Part A||✔||✔||✖||80%|
|N||✔||-Part A -Part B** -Hospice -Skilled Nursing Facility||Part A||✖||✔||✖||80%|
*Excess charges occur when a doctor charges the patient more than Medicare is willing to pay. These charges are likely to occur if your doctor does not “take the assignment,” that is, have an agreement that they will always accept the Medicare-approved amount of coverage as payment in full.
**Plan N’s Part B copay/coinsurance coverage excludes some minor copays for office visits and emergency visits.
The Availability of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield is a large company, but its Medicare Supplement plans are only offered in select states. If you don’t reside in one of the states listed below, then you’ll need to use a different provider for your Medicare Supplement Insurance.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield offers Medicare Supplement plans in the following states:
Wisconsin is a special case as far as Medicare Supplement plans are concerned. While all of the other states on the above list have the “letter” plans in the chart above, Wisconsin has chosen to arrange its standardized plans in a different way. Learn about Wisconsin plan styles here, then look at the Basic Plan and the many “benefit riders” (modifications) that you can add to it.
“Optional Coverage” in Standardized Medicare Supplement Plans
The standardized plans above represent the minimum level of coverage that plans can offer when using the Medicare Supplement name. If they choose, they can offer additional “optional coverage,” and many companies do. This company offers several optional vision and dental packages in most locations. However, because dental and vision coverage is not mandated by the state, the terms of coverage may be more ambiguous than the terms of coverage for Medicare-approved items. Read the plan carefully and evaluate it based on your own needs.
By looking at the pricing in the capital cities of all states that Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield serves, we found that the lowest available monthly premium is $85 and the highest is $828. The high end of this premium range is a shocking number, but it’s only found in Connecticut. The company may be limiting enrollment in plan A in that state by charging high premiums for it. In other states, the high end of the premium spectrum is much more likely to be between $150-$270, and plan G is likely to be the most expensive since it has the most coverage. Location affects premiums a great deal, and those in rural areas may receive better prices than those in large metropolitan areas such as New York City.
The above price ranges are based on a female who is newly eligible for Medicare Supplements. If you have a history of tobacco use, and/or if you’ve waited a long time to sign up for a Medicare Supplement, you may find slightly higher prices. Adding extra benefit packages will also lead to costs that are often $20+ higher than the above price ranges. Note that Anthem is legally allowed to charge males more than females but appears not to in most cases.
Keep in mind that while a Medicare Supplement insurance provider cannot cancel your plan on you unless you stop making payments, it can raise the prices over time. In most cases, your costs will go up once per year in accordance with your increasing age. This is called “attained-age pricing” and is extremely common. Make sure to ask how the pricing goes up in your state since it can vary based on local laws.
Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and/or its parent company has a 1/5 star rating on Yelp, 1/5 stars on the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and 2.2/5 on the Google Business profile of the corporate headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana. These can be averaged for a score of 1.4 stars across the three review platforms. This average does not take into account that some platforms have more reviews than others. Reviews are most plentiful on Yelp.
Positive reviews of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield are somewhat scarce online. However, multiple customers take the time to write notes about their positive experiences with specific customer service representatives. One reviewer in Wisconsin used words like “pleasant,” “awesome,” and “upbeat” to describe the person who helped her with her Anthem plan. Another reviewer from Indiana wrote on Google reviews that the person who helped her “went above and beyond to make sure that I got the information I needed, understood it, and felt comfortable.”
Many negative reviews of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield specifically address how difficult it is to make changes to accounts with this company. Difficulty with address changes comes up several times, and billing changes are also mentioned. Some reviews mention that it’s difficult to get help from customer service if you’ve lost your ID card or if you’ve forgotten your login information. One frustrated customer on Google reviews notes that he had “called multiple times, and they can’t seem to get my phone number changed and my address of where I’m going.”