University of Maryland, Hopkins to offer Medicare Advantage plans in 2016

Seniors can go to local hospitals to buy their Medicare Advantage plans

The University of Maryland Medical System said Thursday that it had completed its acquisition of Timonium-based Riverside Health Inc. and would begin offering Medicare plans for 2016.

Separately, Johns Hopkins HealthCare announced Thursday it too would begin offering coverage for seniors through so-called Medicare Advantage plans for the first time.

A Medicare Advantage plan is a type of private coverage approved by federal regulators that includes all the benefits of the originial federal government plan plus additional services such as vision and wellness programs and often prescription drug coverage. Medicare coverage consists of Part A (hospital) and Part B (medical sercices). Advantage plans are referred to as Part C plans.

MedStar Health and Kaiser Permenente previously offered such Medicare coverage and all four systems offered managed care plans for low-income residents enrolled in Medicaid.

The Riverside acquisition furthers "our mission to serve Maryland as a comprehensive health care provider," said Robert A. Chrencik, University of Maryland Medical System's president and CEO.

Medicare enrollment runs Oct. 15 through Dec. 7 and coverage begins Jan. 1.

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