Montanans in many rural counties will lose their Medicare Advantage plans from Blue Cross Blue Shield at the end of 2017.

Spokesman John Doran said the company is moving away from the Medicare Advantage marketplace.

“Starting in 2018, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana will no longer offer a Medicare Advantage product in 30 of Montana counties,” said Doran from the Helena office. “We had previously offered Medicare Advantage in 39 counties. In 2014 we made a really strong push to reenter the Medicare Advantage market after being away from that product for awhile, but right now, we’re stepping back to reevaluate our products and really maximize the affordability to our members. In those 30 counties there are approximately 7,500 who currently have a Medicare Advantage product. In the nine counties where we will continue to offer Medicare Advantage there are over 27,000 members in those nine counties.”

Doran said even though Blue Cross Blue Shield will no longer offer Medicare Advantage, they will however continue Medicare Supplement plans.

“With a Medicare Supplement, you can ad ala carte services to traditional Medicare, like a plan that will allow you to get into a hospital at a different rate, you can pick up a Part D prescription drug plan," he said. "It’s a really consistent plan and it’s a guaranteed issue plan, as well.”

Those Montanans who will find themselves without a Medicare Advantage plan, efforts are underway to complete a contract with another company to offer the plan, however, the contract negotiations are complicated, and may take longer than the end of the year to complete.

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