Kaiser Permanente clears up confusion over changes to its Medicare plans

Kaiser Permanente building on Pensacola Street, Oahu
Kaiser Permanente building on Pensacola Street, Oahu

Saturday, October 1, marks the start of Medicare open enrollment and Kaiser Permanente is making changes to its Medicare plans.

Changes will be effective January 1, 2017.

Our newsroom has received calls from some concerned senior Kaiser Hawaii members who have Medicare plans after receiving letters that led them to believe that they’re losing the social insurance.

But that’s not the case. Here is what’s happening and why the confusion: In order for Kaiser to make the changes, regulations require Kaiser to take off members from the existing plans and, instead, offer new ones.

Kaiser Permanente is not allowed to automatically re-enroll everyone to the new Medicare plans.

In a statement from Kaiser on Saturday, it partly said that:

Unfortunately, the federal government does not allow us to make significant changes to an existing plan. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations require us to dis-enroll members from the Maui and Big Island Medicare plan and offer a ‘new’ plan. CMS notification letters are arriving (Saturday) and Monday and new plan info will arrive later in the week. We are concerned that this lag time is causing confusion for some seniors. CMS rules prevented us from communicating about the new plans before Oct. 1.

And there’s a crucial breakdown on re-enrollment: “To remain a Kaiser Permanente member, seniors on Maui and Hawaii Island only must re-enroll in the new plan. Medicare rules do not allow us to automatically enroll a current Maui or Hawaii Island member into the new plan. Oahu members do NOT need to re-enroll.”

Additional information is also available online at kp.org/medicare/maui and kp.org/medicare/hawaiiisland or member services at 800- 805-2739 , available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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