Around 14,000 New West Insurance customers were on Medicare Advantage plans and will have to do some work to stay on Medicare Advantage after last Friday’s announcement that New West Insurance will dissolve at the end of this year.

"Everyone who is on a New West Medicare Advantage plan should get some assistance in choosing a new option for the Medicare," said Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokesman Mike Fierberg. "They can choose a different plan provider for Medicare Advantage if they like or they can go back to conventional fee-for-service Medicare. If they do not choose a new provider, they will go back to fee-for-service Medicare on January 1st."

Some argue that New West collapsed because it was unable to recoup costs by raising rates to a high enough level, a process that is overseen by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Fierberg says other providers in the region, have not had the same issues.

"We have the same rate setting process for New West as we do for everyone else," Fierberg said. "I'm not going to comment on their business practices or their business decisions, those are theirs alone, but they have the same issues that everybody else does and nobody else in our six state region has chosen to exit the Medicare Advantage plan."

Choosing between Medicare advantage plans can be complex, because each plan only works within a network of certain hospitals and health care providers. Fierberg says that Montanans that need to make a decision now that New West is gone should call 1 800 551-3191 for free information about Montana Medicare Advantage carriers. Open enrollment is just a few weeks away and begins on October 15th.

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