Senior Citizens Face Confusion During This Year's Medicare Enrollment

RENO, NV - When it came time to re-enroll in her health insurance, Shirley Bertschinger was confused about how the Affordable Care Act would affect her coverage.

"I heard something like 25,000 people in Nevada had their insurance canceled," she said. "I didn't want that to do."

As a long time beneficiary of Medicare and a Senior Care Plus member, she was concerned about losing coverage she was happy with. She is also not alone.

"A lot of our members are coming, thinking they need to enroll in the exchanges," Matthew Ladich, Director of Government Programs for Hometown Health said.

Enrolling through the website was also something that concerned Bertschinger.

"I'm not online, so that would have been a challenge," she said. "Of course they have an 800 number, but most people did not know that."

Fortunately, people with Medicare don't have to deal with the troubled health care website.

"The exchanges are for individuals who don't have Medicare or Medicaid, or people who are under insured and don't have access to federal insurance," Ladich said.

But the Affordable Care Act has made some changes seniors need to be aware of. Many people may have hear rumors that because of the Affordable Care Act, Medicare advantage plans are being canceled.

"One of the big ones is Medicare advantage plans like us now have star ratings, so they actually measure our performance on a yearly basis," Ladich said.

Under the ACA, some advantage plans are not considered competitive enough and don't meed the minimum star rating.

"That's where some beneficiaries are being told because of the Affordable Care Act, many of your medicare advantage plans will go away," Ladich said. "Yes, that's true but only the low performing plans."

Senior Care Plus, which is an advantage plan offered through Hometown Health Plan, Inc. was recently given a 4 1/2 star rating, putting them in the top 20% of advantage plans offered across the country.

Many changes to Medicare, like coverage of preventive care, have been in place for a few years. Others; however, are new; like this year's enrollment period.

This year, enrollment began on October 15th, which means senior citizens only have until December 7th to choose their plan. But Ladich says do research before choosing a plan.

"Look at sites like or give us a call," Ladich said. "A lot of people sign up for plans just because their friends have them or because that's the one their children said to enroll in. Then what happens is people are stuck with plans that don't work for them."

If you still have questions about how Medicare is affected by the Affordable Care Act, or if you are interested in signing up for a Medicare advantage plan, Senior Care Plus hosts informational meetings several times a day, Monday through Friday. For more information, or times, call 775-982-3232 or visit them at

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