More than 8,000 elderly Oklahomans impacted by cancellation of health plans

TULSA -- More than 8,000 elderly residents across Green Country are losing their health insurance as companies pull out of network.  

Residents were shocked by letters they received in the mail last week notifying them of the cancellation of their plans. Now, many elderly couples are left wondering where to go from here.

Betty Short’s routine has been the same for years. She prepares dinner for her husband Clarence after a hard days work.

“I’m going to thaw out my hamburger so I can make some spaghetti,” Short said. 

Each day they set the table and bow their heads, praying God continues to bless each day as he has for the last 65 years of their marriage.

“Heavenly father we thank you for this beautiful day,” Short prayed.

But this time, the couple also prayed for the life changing news that showed up in their mailbox.

“Community Care Senior Health Plan wont offer your Medicare plan in Rogers county in 2018,” Short read aloud from the letter she received in the mail.

It was a letter that caused fear.

“When I opened the letter, I went, ‘Oh no,’” Short said.

Community Care of Oklahoma announced it is dropping Senior Health Plan Medicare Advantage customers in Rogers county.

“We were just dropped for nothing,” Short said. “There was no warning. Nothing on TV, on Facebook, [or] any indication."

Without their coverage, the Shorts fear they won’t be able to afford their daily medications or unforeseen accidents that could occur in the future. They’re left wondering who to turn to for coverage, and they’re not alone.

“I also have great compassion for all these people that are going to be left in a real bind,” Short said.

Sources said between 8,000 and 10,000 people in Tulsa and Rogers county are affected, with other big name insurance companies dropping some Medicare plans as well. 

Blue Cross Blue Shield said it no longer offers Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans in 2018 to Rogers, Tulsa, Muskogee, Creek, Comanche, Garfield, McClain, Mayes, and Payne counties.

The company said the change does not impact employer group offerings or members under the age of 65 who purchase plans directly with the company. Blue Cross Blue Shield also said the changes affect only about 5,000 members and they will have access to other Medicare products offered by the company, as well as other insurer options in the Medicare marketplace.

Humana is also dropping some plans, but offers Tulsa and Rogers county alternative coverage options. The company said it will continue to offer a wide range of Medicare plans in Tulsa County in 2018, including a Medicare Advantage HMO with lowered monthly premiums, a Regional PPO (RPPO) health plan, a Local PPO (LPPO) health plan, a Private Fee for Service (PFFS) health plan and a new “Special Needs Plan” for people who qualify for both Medicare an Medicaid.

Humana also said it will provide about 500 Humana Medicare Advantage members living in Rogers County, who are currently enrolled in a Local PPO (RPPO) health plan, the opportunity to enroll in Humana Medicare Advantage Regional PPO (RPPO) for the 2018 plan year.

The main concern for senior citizens is being uninsured, which is why local Medicare advantage companies are urging those impacted to visit to enroll for coverage between Oct 15 - Dec. 7. 

“We don't know if whatever insurance we pick, will they let us keep our same doctors,” Short said. “What hospital will we go to?"

As the deadline draws near, many are scrambling to research what's next.

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