Medicare Offers Help For Premier Customers


by Roundup staff
All current Medicare beneficiaries enrolled with the nearly-defunct Premier Health Plan of Arizona are guaranteed continued health care coverage under the federal Medicare program, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Monday.

Beneficiaries do not need to take any action to enroll in original fee-for-service Medicare, the department said, because the Health Care Financing Administration will ensure that all affected beneficiaries will become eligible to receive benefits effective Wednesday, Dec. 1 --one day after the Premier contract expires.

Premier was ordered into receivership Nov. 16 by a Maricopa County Superior Court judge, forcing 800 Premier members in Northern Gila County to switch HMOs--many for the second time in one year.

The Arizona Department of Insurance is overseeing the transition of Premier's 70,000 members into other health plans. Under a state-approved strategy, Premiere will attempt to continue providing health insurance coverage to its members, which include 20,000 members in its Medicare HMO, for two more months.

However, while Premier has a policy with a re-insurer for $10 million to pay for claims from Nov. 16 forward, the Arizona Department of Insurance is continuing to encourage Premier enrollees to quickly find other HMO coverage, as the money may be used up before all such claims are paid.

Beneficiaries who return to original fee-for-service Medicare may be able to purchase Medigap, a supplemental insurance plan. Eligible enrollees are scheduled to receive a Health Care Financing Administration notice which will serve both as proof of membership in the Premier Health Plan and as a guarantee of eligibility for a Medigap policy.

A list of the 80 companies approved to market Medigap policies in Arizona is available from the State Health Insurance Program at 1-800-432-4040, or the Arizona Department of Insurance at 1-800-325-2548 or on the Internet at

Free counseling is available from the State Health Insurance Program. Additional information about managed care options is also available by calling Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 or accessing the Internet at

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