Press Releases

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Highmark Medicare products make care more affordable - Western New York

  • Added value for current Highmark members, with all Medicare plans now including dental benefits
  • Introducing a brand new $0 premium plan designed specifically for our nation’s veterans – Freedom PPO Valor
  • Reducing members’ costs for prescription drugs and labs on several plans
  • Locally-based Medicare Advisers to guide shoppers through plan selection and enrollment and answer any questions

BUFFALO (October 1, 2022) – With the annual enrollment period less than two weeks away, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York (BCBSWNY) has announced significant investments and improvements for its Medicare coverage options in 2023, designed to meet the lifestyle and budget needs of the diverse consumer base across Western New York.

“When we began planning for our 2023 Medicare products, we looked at ways to make enhancements that help make high-quality care more affordable for seniors in the Western New York,” said Alexis Miller, President, Government Business.  “Many of our plans now have $0 PCP visits and many offer lab copays at $5 or less to make it more affordable to access high-quality care.”

Continued commitment to affordability
Highmark recognizes that the right Medicare Advantage plan is affordable both when you are healthy and when you need to access more care.  “We made improvements to all of our plans and even added a new $0 premium product,” said Ellen Galardy, senior vice president of Highmark Medicare & ACA Markets.  “We’re confident that one of our local Medicare experts can help shoppers find a plan that fits both their budget and their healthcare needs.   

Medicare Advantage plans are required by law to include everything that basic Medicare includes.  Many Medicare shoppers are seeking plans that provide benefits beyond original Medicare, and dental coverage is one of the most-desired benefits.

“This year, Highmark is enhancing our Medicare Advantage plans in Western New York to include dental benefits,” said Ellen Galardy, senior vice president of Highmark Medicare & ACA Markets.  “All plans now include coverage for dental exams and x-rays, many at $0 copays, plus a comprehensive dental allowance for services like crowns and root canals.”

In addition to product improvements designed to make access to care easier and more affordable, Highmark offers many additional benefits and tools that make it easier for our members to stay engaged with their health and manage chronic conditions.

“We recognize how important it is for our senior members to have affordable access to their prescriptions,” said Galardy. “This year we are enhancing our prescription drug benefits on many plans by lowering deductibles, which will help members to fill their specialty prescriptions at a lower out-of-pocket cost.”   

Highmark enrollees can also continue to expect robust supplemental benefits that go beyond original Medicare to ensure they have access to the products and services they need to stay healthy. Highmark plans include dental, vision, and hearing coverage, and some plans also allowances for acupuncture, massage, and over-the-counter items.  

2023 Medicare Advantage products
Dr. Michael Edbauer, President, Highmark New York, recognizes the growing popularity of Medicare Advantage plans.  “Each year more and more seniors in Western New York choose a Medicare Advantage plan,” said Edbauer.  “These plans offer premiums as low as $0, include valuable supplemental benefits, and some even offer money back in your social security check each month.  And seniors in Medicare Advantage plans are more likely to get preventive care, which is key to staying healthy.”

In 2023, Highmark will provide more value to Medicare members with lower premiums and copays and expanded supplemental benefits.  Highmark will also launch a new plan to create a portfolio that better meets the needs of all consumers – a PPO designed with our nation’s veterans in mind. The new Freedom Blue PPO Valor is a $0 premium plan with a $50 part B giveback that is designed to supplement the medical and drug coverage our nation’s veterans already receive through the VA.  Not only does this plan offer $0 in-network primary care and $10 specialist visits, and generous supplemental benefits, including $0 dental exams and x-rays. 

“We wanted to honor our veterans by making sure we have an option for a great Medicare Advantage plan that complements the coverage they receive through the VA. Plus, many of our $0 plans also offerf enhanced supplemental benefits, including vision, comprehensive dental, hearing, and allowances for over-the-counter items plus acupuncture and massage.” said Dr. Edbauer.

For members looking to minimize premium expense, Highmark will offer multiple $0 premium plans in 2023.  Senior Blue Basic HMO members will now receive a $62 monthly part B giveback as well as enhanced dental benefits.  The BlueSaver HMO comes with reduced copays on the most commonly-used services, including $0 copays for PCP visits, labs, preventive dental, and some mail-order prescriptions.

Highmark will also continue to offer its Freedom Nation PPO plan – a low cost PPO with a $22 premium for those looking for broader network access.  In addition to lowering the premium, many of the copays on this plan have been reduced, including primary care visits, urgent care, outpatient services, dental services, and many prescriptions.

The Senior Blue HMO and Forever Blue PPO plans benefit from lower premiums, reduced urgent care and expanded dental coverage including $0 exams and x-rays and enhanced coverage for comprehensive care.

Most notably, its Medicare Advantage plans offer members around-the-clock support. With the annual enrollment period running from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, individuals have a variety of options to switch or enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan for 2023.

In addition to Medicare Advantage plans, Highmark offers a wide range of Medigap supplemental products to ensure that everyone can find the right Highmark Medicare plan for them.  Medigap Blue lowers members’ out of pocket costs for services covered under Medicare Part A and Part B, and offers the freedom and flexibility to see any doctor or hospital in the country that accepts Medicare. Additionally, members of Highmark Medigap Blue plans have exclusive access to the Whole Health Balance program, which provides extra coverage for hearing aids, vision, dental and fitness.  Highmark also offers standalone Blue Rx PDP prescription drug plans.

For additional information, you can visit any of Highmark BCBSWNY’s Medicare Centers to discuss coverage options face-to-face with enrollment specialists.  Hours and additional information is available at www.bcbswny.com/medicare. Centers are located at:

  • 6770 Main Street in Amherst, NY  
  • 2925 Sheridan Drive in Tonawanda, NY 
  • 4086 N. Buffalo Road, Orchard Park, NY

Additionally, individuals can visit community meetings located across the Western New York region, call a dedicated Medicare Advantage number at 1-800-248-9296 (TTY 711), 8 a.m. – 8 p.m., 7 days a week, or visit www.bcbswny.com/medicare for information on 2023 Medicare Advantage products.

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York is a trade name of Highmark Western and Northeastern New York Inc., an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Since 1936, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York has helped millions of people lead healthier lives. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield offers a full range of insured, self-insured, and government programs and services covering businesses, families, and individuals, as well as dental and vision plans and stop-loss coverage. Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield employs more than 1,500 people and serves as a key economic driver in the region. As a community-based, not-for-profit health plan, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield contributes significantly to organizations that strengthen and enrich the health of the community.

For up-to-date news, facts, and information about the company, leadership, and industry, please visit bcbswny.com or follow us on Twitter.

For more information, contact

Amber Hartmann
Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield of Western New York
716-208-9534  
Amber.Hartmann@highmarkhealth.org