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Health & LivingNews

Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition Hosts Meeting on In-Network Service Coverage

Seniors and other members of the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition (ALHC) met on Tuesday, January 22, for an ALHC Trustee presentation on Medicare plan options to provide insights to seniors on understanding costs, accessibility, and competition.

“The purpose of this meeting was to help seniors in our area understand the situation and options for their Medicare insurance coverage,” said Bill Buege, M.D.

This presentation helped seniors living on a fixed income navigate their choices and empowered them to reach out to elected officials, including Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, federal regulators, and Blue Cross Blue Shield representatives to appeal for fair access to local healthcare resources with coverage they can afford.

“Blue Cross Blue Shield’s (BCBS) Medicare Advantage plan is one of the most popular choices in southern Minnesota, but it only offers Mayo Clinic as its in-network local option for their members,” said Brad Arends, president of ALHC. “MercyOne Clinic in Albert Lea is not currently in-network for those with BCBS Medicare Advantage. This is a glaring omission since the same services at MercyOne in Mason City, Iowa, forty-two miles away, are in the BCBS network for this plan. This discrepancy in coverage reveals what is effectively a local monopoly situation, and it means reduced choices for seniors who select this plan.”

It’s important to note that BCBS Medicare Advantage members from Burnsville can access the MercyOne Clinic in Albert Lea in-network, but Albert Lea members can not.

Seniors learned that they can switch from their BCBS Medicare Advantage plan to original Medicare or to providers such as UCare or Medica. They can consult with their insurance agent to consider which plan best meets their objectives.

Also in attendance were state senator Gene Dornink, state representative Peggy Bennett and MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center CEO and President Rod Schlader. Tom Sullivan from Big Stone Therapies, and Stuart Trembath, owner and audiologist from Hearing Associates, gave brief presentations on their services. Both entities are located in the John & Susan Morrison Medical Plaza with the MercyOne Clinic. Jill Morstad, ALHC Trustee, gave an update on services available at the new clinic.

The meeting was livestreamed on the Albert Lea Healthcare Coalition’s Facebook page. Click here to watch the presentation.

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