Independence Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Review

Independence Blue Cross offers diverse Medicare Advantage plans with comprehensive coverage, including prescription drugs, dental, vision, and wellness programs, ensuring flexibility and a broad provider network.
By . Last update: June 11, 2024

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Independence Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Reviews
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Independence Blue Cross offers a variety of HMO and PPO plans designed to meet the diverse needs of Individuals on Medicare in Pennsylvania. With a strong presence in the Philadelphia region, Independence Blue Cross is committed to providing comprehensive healthcare options that include prescription drug coverage, dental and vision care, and wellness programs. Members can choose from different plan types such as HMO, PPO, and HMO-POS, ensuring flexibility and access to a broad network of healthcare providers.

Independence Blue Cross’s Medicare Advantage plans are known for their robust benefits and customer-focused service. The plans often include additional perks such as fitness memberships and over-the-counter allowances, aiming to support the overall health and well-being of their members. According to Medicare’s Star Ratings, Independence Blue Cross consistently receives high marks for its commitment to quality and member satisfaction.

Table of Contents

Member Reviews for Independence Blue Cross

The following Independence Blue Cross reviews have been left by our members.

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PROS

  • Comprehensive Coverage: Includes prescription drugs, dental, vision, and wellness programs.
  • Plan Variety: Offers HMO, PPO, and HMO-POS plans for flexibility.
  • Additional Benefits: Fitness memberships and over-the-counter allowances.
  • High Member Satisfaction: Consistently high ratings for quality and service.
  • Extensive Provider Network: Broad access to healthcare providers.

CONS

  • Geographical Limitation: Primarily serves the Philadelphia region.
  • Out-of-Network Costs: Higher costs for out-of-network services in some plans.
  • Plan Complexity: Varied plans may be confusing for some members.
  • Referral Requirements: Some plans require referrals for specialist visits.
  • Prior Authorization: Certain services and medications may need prior authorization.
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How Do Independence Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Plans Work?

Independence Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plan members get all their hospital coverage (Medicare Part A) and medical coverage (Medicare Part B) benefits through their plan. This covers screenings, preventive care, vaccinations, visits to doctors and specialists, hospital stays, skilled nursing, and hospice.

All Independence Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plans include coverage for:

  • Inpatient hospital admissions.
  • Doctor and specialist care.
  • Preventive care, screenings, and vaccinations.
  • Diagnostic services, lab work, X-rays and other imaging.
  • Outpatient services.
  • Ambulance transportation for emergencies.
  • Durable medical supplies and equipment.

Medicare regulations require that all private health plans offer at least the same coverage and benefits as Original Medicare. However, Independence Blue Cross sets its own out-of-pocket costs.

Some Independence Blue Cross plans offer additional benefits like routine dental, vision, hearing, and wellness programs, which are not usually covered by Original Medicare.

By enrolling in a Independence Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plan, many beneficiaries enjoy the convenience of having all their healthcare needs managed under one plan, often with lower out-of-pocket costs and additional perks tailored to their health and lifestyle.

However, it's important to understand that lower costs are not guaranteed. Costs are largely based on the specific plan and usage of healthcare services. Also, depending on the Independence Blue Cross plan chosen, there may be access restrictions, including referrals and prior authorization, which do not exist in Original Medicare.

Extra Benefits from Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plans often include a range of additional benefits designed to enhance member health and well-being. Common benefits include:

  • Dental, Vision, and Hearing: Allowances for routine dental care, vision exams, and hearing aids.
  • Over-the-Counter (OTC) Allowance: A set amount for purchasing approved OTC products at participating retailers.
  • Fitness Programs: Access to SilverSneakers or other fitness programs to encourage physical activity.
  • Meal Delivery Services: Home-delivered meals after a hospital stay to support recovery.
  • Telehealth Services: Access to virtual visits with healthcare providers for convenience and safety.
  • Wellness Programs: Various programs aimed at promoting overall health, including smoking cessation and weight management.
  • Transportation Services: Assistance with transportation to and from medical appointments.

What Types of Plans Does Independence Blue Cross Offer?

Not all Independence Blue Cross plans are the same. And, Independence Blue Cross may not offer all plan types where you live, so it pays to explore using our Medicare Advantage Plan Finder tool. Here are the plan types Independence Blue Cross offers:[6]

Medicare preferred provider organization (PPO) plans provide the most freedom, allowing you to see any provider that accepts the insurance. With a PPO plan, you generally do not need to choose a primary care doctor, and you don’t need referrals to see specialists. And you can seek out-of-network care, although it may cost more than seeing an in-network doctor.

Health maintenance organization (HMO) plans require that you use a specific network of doctors and hospitals. Also, with a Independence Blue Cross HMO plan you may need a referral from your primary care doctor in order to see a specialist. Out-of-network benefits are usually very limited. However, in an emergency you are not limited to care from your local hospital of emergency room.

HMO point-of-service plans are HMO plans that allow members to get some out-of-network services, but you’ll pay more for those services.

NOTE: Independence Blue Cross may also offer Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs). Due to the highly specialized nature of D-SNP (dual eligible), C-SNP (chronic condition), and I-SNP (institutional) insurance plans, we review them separately.

How Much Do Independence Blue Cross Plans Cost?

The cost of a Independence Blue Cross plan will vary depending on the specific plan chosen, your location, usage of healthcare services, and the plan's out-of-pocket costs. We detail out-of-pocket costs on all Independence Blue Cross Medicare Advantage Plans in our plan finder.

Usually, Independence Blue Cross charges a monthly premium that varies based on the coverage level and the additional benefits included. You also need to continue paying your Part B premium. Additionally, Medicare may add a monthly Income Related Monthly Adjustment Amount (IRMAA), if you're a high-income earner.[5]

Independence Blue Cross’s monthly premiums are highly dependent on where you live. For instance, the average cost of a Medicare Advantage plan from Independence Blue Cross in Pennsylvania is $64.51 per month, but in Pennsylvania the average cost is $64.51 per month. These averages do not include Special Needs Plans.

Independence Blue Cross's Premiums vs. Competitors

The following list shows Independence Blue Cross's nationwide average monthly premium (excluding Special Needs Plans) vs. several competitors.

Independence Blue Cross
$10.11
AARP/UHC
$13.97
Aetna
$7.75
Wellcare
$26.20
UnitedHealthcare
$22.97

You also need to factor in copayments or coinsurance for healthcare services like doctor visits or hospital stays. The costs in each Independence Blue Cross plan we reviewed varied depending on the level of coverage and the type of services received.

Some plans may offer $0 premiums or low copayments for certain services, while others may have higher premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs. It's important to carefully review the costs and coverage details of each plan option to find the one that best fits your budget and healthcare needs.[7]

We analyzed the following popular Independence Blue Cross plans to give you an idea of what members pay to use healthcare services. This is just a sample, use our Medicare Advantage Plan Finder to see plans and costs where you live.

Important costs for plan ID H3909-009-0 reviewed in Chester County, PA.
  • Monthly premium: $158
  • Out-of-pocket max: $5,000
  • Primary Care: $$0
  • Specialist: $$0
  • Tier 1 Prescriptions: $9.00 copay, $0 deductible
  • Urgent Care: $$0
  • Emergency Room: $$0
  • Ground Ambulance: $$0
  • Inpatient Care:
  • Extra Benefits: None
Important costs for plan ID H3909-015-0 reviewed in Chester County, PA.
  • Monthly premium: $0
  • Out-of-pocket max: $7,550
  • Primary Care: $$0
  • Specialist: $$0
  • Tier 1 Prescriptions: $9.00 copay, $0 deductible
  • Urgent Care: $$0
  • Emergency Room: $$0
  • Ground Ambulance: $$0
  • Inpatient Care:
  • Extra Benefits: None
Important costs for plan ID H3909-016-0 reviewed in Chester County, PA.
  • Monthly premium: $0
  • Out-of-pocket max: $8,300
  • Primary Care: $$0
  • Specialist: $$0
  • Tier 1 Prescriptions: $9.00 copay, $0 deductible
  • Urgent Care: $$0
  • Emergency Room: $$0
  • Ground Ambulance: $$0
  • Inpatient Care:
  • Extra Benefits: None

Is Independence Blue Cross a Good Medicare Advantage Plan?

Independence Blue Cross provides a variety of Medicare Advantage plans with a focus on comprehensive coverage and member satisfaction. To better understand the quality of their plans, we evaluated several consumer intelligence companies and consumer review websites.

J.D. Power Ranking

J.D. Power conducts comprehensive studies evaluating member satisfaction with Medicare Advantage plans across multiple factors such as trust, service quality, and complaint resolution. The rankings from J.D. Power are significant because they provide an independent, data-driven insight into how well a plan meets member expectations.

Independence Blue Cross is included in the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Medicare Advantage Study. It ranked at the bottom of the plan studied in Pennsylvania, reflecting room for improvement as compared to the top plans, UPMC for Life, Highmark, and Aetna.

NCQA Health Plan Score

The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) rates health plans based on quality of care, patient satisfaction, and improvement efforts. These ratings are crucial for prospective members as they highlight the overall performance of a plan in delivering quality healthcare services.

Higher NCQA scores signify that a plan is committed to maintaining high standards of care and continuously improving its services. This information is valuable for individuals seeking plans that prioritize patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Independence Blue Cross plans are not currently listed on the NCQA website.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) Rating

At the time of this review, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has Independence Blue Cross with an A+ rating, its highest. This rating reflects the company's ability to resolve customer complaints and maintain transparency in business practices.

Independence Blue Cross's Medicare Star Ratings

Independence Blue Cross's average 5-star rating: 4.15*
*Our calculation is weighted by enrollments in public plans, excluding Special Needs Plans, with CMS star ratings across 2 contracts covering 110,527 members.

To understand the government's perspective on the quality of Independence Blue Cross's Medicare Advantage plans, you can refer to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' star ratings. These ratings grade each plan on a scale from 1 (worst) to 5 (best) stars, based on quality of care and customer satisfaction. The ratings are updated annually.[9]

All Medicare Advantage plans are evaluated on CMS's health plan measures. Plans that include prescription drug coverage are also evaluated on drug plan measures. Based on the most recent year of data and weighted by enrollment, Independence Blue Cross’s 2024 Medicare Advantage plans get an average rating of 4.15 stars.[9] [11]

Of all Independence Blue Cross members who are in contracts with a Medicare star rating, 100% are in contracts rated 4 stars or above as of January 1, 2024.

You can find all plan ratings in your area using our Medicare Advantage Plan finder tool.

Independence Blue Cross's Top Plans

Here's a list of Independence Blue Cross's most popular plans (by enrollments):[9][10]

Medicare Advantage Search and compare Medicare Advantage plans available in your area.

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Frequently Asked Questions

The following are the most frequently asked questions we found about Independence Blue Cross's Medicare Advantage plans:

MA Plan Pros

  1. The maximum out-of-pocket cost is $7,550 a year
  2. Many plans cost $0 extra a month
  3. Most plans include drug coverage
  4. Many include basic hearing, dental, and vision benefits
  5. May include gym discounts (Silver Sneakers)

MA Plan Cons
  1. Can only switch during Open Enrollment
  2. Not easy to compare because plans are not standardized
  3. No nationwide coverage (plans don't travel with you)
  4. Most are HMO plans that require referrals to see a specialist
  5. Plans can change health and drug coverage each year

Learn more in this article.

Some Medicare Advantage plans offer a zero-dollar monthly premium because what Medicare pays the plan, plus your Medicare Part B premium, cover the full cost. For healthy people who want to keep their monthly costs low, these plans are an attractive option. But, just be aware that the premium is not the only cost. Plans also have copays or coinsurance you must pay when you use services. To learn more about free Medicare Advantage plans, read Why are Some Medicare Advantage Plans Free?

There is no debate when it comes to which plan offers better coverage. Original Medicare and a supplement plan offer the best coverage, but it costs more up-front. For a complete breakdown of the differences between Medicare Advantage plans and Medigap plans, read: Medicare Advantage vs Medigap: Which is Best for You?

Researching your health plan options is important. Here are some key questions to consider before choosing a Medicare Advantage plan as well as additional companies to read about:

Key Questions

All plans potentially have monthly premiums, deductibles, copayments, and/or coinsurance, including plans from Independence Blue Cross. Are these costs within your budget?

  • Does the plan cover your prescriptions? Knowing how a plan covers them is important if you have regular prescriptions because costs and coverage vary widely from plan to plan.
  • Are your doctors in the plan’s network? If you have preferred providers, ensure they participate in the plan’s network.
  • Is routine dental, vision, and hearing covered? Traditional Medicare doesn’t cover these services. If you need it, be sure to explore plans that cover it.
  • What extras does the plan include? Plans may include many beneficial extras, like gym memberships (SilverSneakers), medical transportation, meal delivery, telehealth, and more.

If you have additional questions, visit Medicare.gov or call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227, TTY 877-486-2048).

About Independence Blue Cross

Independence Blue Cross, headquartered in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a prominent provider of Medicare Advantage plans. Their offerings include Medicare Advantage Plans (Medicare Part C), Medicare Part D Plans (prescription drug plans), and Medicare Supplement Plans (Medigap plans). Independence Blue Cross serves the Philadelphia region and surrounding areas, focusing on providing comprehensive coverage and a broad network of healthcare providers.

You can enroll in an Independence Blue Cross plan during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) at age 65, the annual Open Enrollment Period (Oct 15 - Dec 7), or a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) based on special circumstances, such as moving or losing employer coverage. Recent announcements from Independence Blue Cross include the introduction of new wellness programs and enhanced benefits for 2024, aimed at improving overall member health and satisfaction .

Company
Independence Health Group, Inc
Phone Number
800-303-0656
Website
https://www.ibx.com/medicare
Facebook Page
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Citations

MedicareWire uses trustworthy sources to inform its work, including government websites, government data, actuarial service data, consumer intelligence websites, and peer-reviewed studies. All content is fact-checked for accuracy, timeliness, and relevance. We used the following information sources in this review: