Simplifying Health Care for Retired Vermonters
“I had a lot of anxiety about retiring to begin with,” says Joanne Reynolds who retired from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont (Blue Cross) in December of 2020. “Mostly around the finances, but also, what would I do with myself and what would my purpose be when I retired?”
A long-practicing yogi, Joanne tackled purpose first, becoming a certified yoga instructor in her fifties and teaching classes over Zoom during the pandemic. The practice, she says, “teaches us to be in the present and to be compassionate,” which helped her to turn towards her financial decisions.
A mindful approach
While Joanne’s health is good, she has Type 1 Diabetes, so she knew she would need to plan carefully for her health expenses. “When you’re choosing a health plan, you need to acknowledge where you are in the health care continuum. I have expenses of course, so it plays an important role in my budgeting and what I can expect from retirement. Paying attention and making sure you’re working with a local company that you know is going to be there when you need them, really gets at trust, compassion and care.”
Paying for health care consistently tops the list of concerns for people approaching retirement—
even for people like Joanne who spent 35 years the health insurance industry and 24 of those years working for Blue Cross. “I understood the process but thinking about Medicare was overwhelming. It was so complicated.” She found herself wading through dense material from national health plans that did not provide answers to important questions, such as where she could buy insulin pump supplies and whether or not her sensor would be covered.
Medicare Advantage for Vermonters, by Vermonters
So, when Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont created Vermont Blue Advantage, a Medicare Advantage company, Joanne was among the first to sign up for the only local Medicare Advantage plan available to Vermonters.
“My preference was to stay at Blue Cross—those people are my work family—and the new Medicare Advantage plan options sealed the deal,” she said. Joanne trusted that the same level of support and compassion she experienced as an employee would be extended to her, and to all members, through Vermont Blue Advantage.
This fall, Vermont Blue Advantage became a reality and started offering Medicare Advantage plans right here in Vermont. “I’d been waiting for this for years,” said Joanne. “Vermont Blue Advantage is a local option run by Vermonters for Vermonters.”
“A little extra cushion”
In addition to the new Medicare Advantage plan offering “one-stop shopping” for medical and prescription drug plans, vision, dental, even some over-the-counter medications, Joanne likes that Vermont Blue Advantage coordinates directly with Medicare and takes the member out of the middle. “At this stage of my life,” she says, “I don’t want anything that’s any harder than it needs to be.”
Once the pandemic is better controlled, Joanne and her husband of 42 years also plan to do some travelling—first a tour of the south, and then maybe the trip across the country they’ve delayed since before their wedding—so she likes that her Vermont Blue Advantage Medicare Advantage plan is portable too. “I can take it with me when I travel,” said Joanne, “if I go to the Cape in the summer or visit my daughter, or if we travel like we’re planning to.” Paris is also on her bucket list.
“It’s extremely important to have good, affordable health insurance in retirement. It gives me the peace of mind to travel. It also gives me a little extra cushion in my budget to do things I want to do other than pay for medical expenses, like try a new yoga class.”