FONDA-The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors' Personnel Committee met Tuesday to review a plan that could save the county money when paying for retired residents' Medicare.
The committee heard from John Panichi, chief executive officer of Benetech, a firm that handles group insurance and advises Montgomery County. The presentation Panichi gave described the current and the proposed plans, as well as where the possible savings could occur.
Committee Chairman Dominick Stagliano, supervisor of St. Johnsville, said the proposed plan came from supervisors stating they could save a large sum if they switch. The study is meant to determine the validity of that claim, he said.
Panichi said Benetech would need time to determine how much money the county could save.
Stagliano gave him five weeks to study the plan and figure out the savings.
According to Panichi, the current group plan contains two parts. The first is a Medicare plan, which covers those 65 years old and older or those that are disabled. Medicare pays out in two parts. Part A covers facility costs, while Part B covers the cost of a physician. The current plan is supplemented by the Montgomery County Self-Insured Plan, which covers the balances made by medicare and prescription drugs.
The proposed plan is the Medicare Advantage Plan. MAP would combine the two sections into one, covering those 65 and older and those who are disabled, as well as covering the costs of the facility, the physician, and for prescription drugs. Those covered under MAP would still pay their Part B Premium, but this system would replace the standard Part A and B plans. Those enrolled in MAP would receive an identification card that would be shown when visiting physicians. Once shown, the company providing MAP is responsible for processing all claims and for paying the doctors, hospitals and other providers of care.
Richard Baia, Montgomery County's director of personnel, explained that when the county goes to a MAP plan, retirees might still use their Plan A and B Medicare card.
"They're still paying that $100 for the Part B Medicare Advantage plan. So they have two cards in their pocket that they are paying for but can't use," Baia said. "They go to a drug store or a doctor. Know what card they give them? Medicare A and B card. What happens is they come to my office four months later. 'I got this bill, hasn't been payed for by medicare. What do I do with it?' They have to pay it. They used the wrong card."
Baia went on to explain that these mistakes can harm seniors by flooding them with bills.
"These aren't people [who are age] 65. These are people 85 and 90 years old," Baia said.
Panichi, in his presentation, stated that there were variables not put into the plan yet, such as moving approximately 200 retirees out of the self insured program and how to handle the rates that do not fit the tier-based system of MAP.
The committee will meet again Aug. 21.