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Research before changing your insurance policy

RIdgecrest Regional Hospital (RRH)– Ridgecrest Regional Hospital officials caution patients to ask questions before changing insurance

With insurance plans offering open enrollment for Medicare through Dec. 7, healthcare officials are urging local residents to conduct careful research before changing their policies. 

“Remember — there are some plans that will cost you less money, but there are always going to be tradeoffs for that lower premium that should be considered before switching plans,” said Michelle Whalley, clinic administrator of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital’s Rural Health. 

Whalley noted that there are many alternatives to traditional Medicare that advertise lower monthly rates, but require travel outside of Ridgecrest for routine care. Patients may also be subject to higher co-pays and out-of-pocket costs that may ultimately make the plans more expensive.

“It’s also important to remember that some medical coverage does not travel with you. So in the event of an unforeseen medical emergency, you could incur significant costs for any emergency out-of-network care,” said Whalley.

She also recommended that individuals make sure they are dealing with legitimate professionals when signing up and paying for insurance plans. 

Representatives of Medicare HMOs and Medicare Advantage plans are not permitted to ask for your personal information (including numbers for Social Security, bank accounts or credit card numbers). Plans do not require personal information in order to generate a quote. Providers must send a bill and should not ask for payments over the phone.

If you want to know whether your plan is accepted by your primary care physician and RRH, Whalley recommended that patients call their doctor’s office directly.

The California Health Insurance Counseling and Medical Advocacy Program does not sell policies, but is a resource that can help patients get objective information about healthcare. To contact a local HICAP rep., call Lupe Garcia, at 661-868-1067.