Health Insurance Definitions

Below is a list of health insurance words and phrases that you should become familiar with as part of your Senior Care Plus membership:

Allowed Amount – The amount Hometown Health Plan has determined is an appropriate payment for the service(s) rendered or such other amount as the Plan Provider and Hometown Health Plan have agreed will be accepted as payment for the service(s) rendered. The allowed amount for non-contracted providers is determined by CMS.

Appeal – An appeal is a special kind of complaint you make if you disagree with a decision to deny a request for health care services and/or prescription drugs or payment for services and/or prescription drugs you already received. You may also make a complaint if you disagree with a decision to stop services that you are receiving. For example, you may ask for an appeal if our Plan doesn’t pay for a drug/item/service you think you should be able to receive. Section 5 explains appeals, including the process involved in making an appeal.

Balance Billing – A request for payment by a provider to a member for the difference between Hometown Health Plan’s allowed amount and the billed charges. Balance billing is not allowed by plan providers.

Benefit Period – For the Original Medicare Plan, a benefit period is used to determine coverage for inpatient stays in hospitals and skilled nursing facilities. A benefit period begins on the first day you go to a Medicare-covered inpatient hospital or a skilled nursing facility. The benefit period ends when you haven’t been an inpatient at any hospital or SNF for 60 days in a row. If you go to the hospital (or SNF) after one benefit period has ended, a new benefit period begins. There is no limit to the number of benefit periods you can have. The type of care that is covered depends on whether you are considered an inpatient for hospital and SNF stays. You must be admitted to the hospital as an inpatient, not just under observation. You are an inpatient in a SNF only if your care in the SNF meets certain standards for skilled level of care. Specifically, in order to be an inpatient in a SNF, you must need daily skilled-nursing or skilled-rehabilitation care, or both.

Brand-Name Drug – A prescription drug that is manufactured and sold by the pharmaceutical company that originally researched and developed the drug. Brand name drugs have the same active-ingredient formula as the generic version of the drug. However, generic drugs are manufactured and sold by other drug manufacturers and are generally not available until after the patent on the brand name drug has expired.

Calendar Year – The period that begins on January 1st and ends twelve (12) consecutive months later on December 31st.

Catastrophic Coverage – The phase in the Part D Drug Benefit where you pay a low co-payment or coinsurance for your drugs after you or other qualified parties on your behalf have spent $5,100 (2019) in covered drugs during the covered year.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) – The Federal agency that runs the Medicare program. You can visit the CMS website here.

Cost-Sharing – Cost-sharing refers to amounts that a member has to pay when drugs/services are received. It includes any combination of the following three types of payments: (1) any deductible amount a plan may impose before drugs/services are covered; (2) any fixed “co-payment” amounts that a plan may require be paid when specific drugs/services are received; or (3) any “coinsurance” amount that must be paid as a percentage of the total amount paid for a drug/service.

Coverage Determination – A decision from your Medicare drug plan about whether a drug prescribed for you is covered by the Plan and the amount, if any, you are required to pay for the prescription. In general, if you bring your prescription to a pharmacy and the pharmacy tells you the prescription isn’t covered under your plan, that isn’t a coverage determination. You need to call or write to your plan to ask for a formal decision about the coverage if you disagree.

Covered Drugs – The term we use to mean all of the prescription drugs covered by our Plan.

Covered Services – The general term we use in the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) to mean all of the health care services and supplies that are covered by our Plan.

Creditable Prescription Drug Coverage – Coverage (for example, from an employer or union) that is at least as good as Medicare’s prescription drug coverage.

Custodial Care – Care for personal needs rather than medically necessary needs. Custodial care is care that can be provided by people who don’t have professional skills or training. This care includes help with walking, dressing, bathing, eating, preparation of special diets, and taking medication. Medicare does not cover custodial care unless it is provided as other care you are getting in addition to daily skilled nursing care and/or skilled rehabilitation services.

Customer Services – A department within our Plan responsible for answering your questions about your membership, benefits, grievances, and appeals. See “Helpful Links” for information about how to contact Customer Services.

Disenroll or Disenrollment – The process of ending your membership in our Plan. Disenrollment may be voluntary (your own choice) or involuntary (not your own choice). Your “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) discusses disenrollment.

Durable Medical Equipment – Certain medical equipment that is ordered by your doctor for use in the home. Examples are walkers, wheelchairs, or hospital beds.

Emergency Care – Covered services that are: 1) rendered by a provider qualified to furnish emergency services; and 2) needed to evaluate or stabilize an emergency medical condition.

Evidence of Coverage (EOC) and Disclosure Information – A document, along with your enrollment form and any other attachments, riders, or other optional coverage selected, which explains your coverage, what we must do, your rights, and what you have to do as a member of our Plan.

Exception – A type of coverage determination that, if approved, allows you to get a drug that is not on your plan sponsor’s formulary (a formulary exception), or get a non-preferred drug at the preferred cost-sharing level (a tiering exception). You may also request an exception if your plan sponsor requires you to try another drug before receiving the drug you are requesting, or the Plan limits the quantity or dosage of the drug you are requesting (a formulary exception).

Exclusion – Items or services that Senior Care Plus does not cover. You are responsible for paying for excluded items or services.

Experimental Procedures and Items – Items and procedures determined by Medicare not to be generally accepted by the medical community. When deciding if a service or item is experimental, Hometown Health Plan will follow the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) manuals or will follow decisions already made by Medicare, with the exception of procedures and items under approved clinical trials, experimental procedures and items are not covered within the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC).

Formulary – A list of covered drugs provided by the Plan.

Generic Drug – A prescription drug that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as having the same active ingredient(s) as the brand-name drug. Generally, generic drugs cost less than brand-name drugs.

Grievance – A type of complaint you make about us or one of our network providers/pharmacies, including a complaint concerning the quality of your care. This type of complaint does not involve coverage or payment disputes. Refer to your “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) for more information about grievances.

Home Health Aide – A home health aide provides services that don’t need the skills of a licensed nurse or therapist, such as help with personal care (e.g., bathing, using the toilet, dressing, or carrying out the prescribed exercises). Home health aides do not have a nursing license or provide therapy.

Home Health Care – Skilled nursing care and certain other health care services that you get in your home for the treatment of an illness or injury. Covered services are listed in the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) Benefits Chart in Section 10 under the heading “Home health care.” If you need home health care services, our Plan will cover these services for you provided the Medicare coverage requirements are met. Home health care can include services from a home health aide if the services are part of the home health plan of care for your illness or injury. They aren’t covered unless you are also getting a covered skilled service. Home health services don’t include the services of housekeepers, food service arrangements, or full-time nursing care at home.

Hospice Care – A special way of caring for people who are terminally ill and providing counseling for their families. Hospice care is physical care and counseling that is given by a team of people who are part of a Medicare-certified public agency or private company. Depending on the situation, this care may be given in the home, a hospice facility, a hospital, or a nursing home. Care from a hospice is meant to help patients in the last months of life by giving comfort and relief from pain. The focus is on care, not cure. For more information on hospice care visit and under “Search Tools” choose “Find a Medicare Publication” to view or download the publication “Medicare Hospice Benefits.”

Hospitalist – A physician who specializes in treating patients when they are in the hospital and who may coordinate your care if you are admitted to a Senior Care Plus Plan hospital.

Inpatient Care – Health care that you get when you are admitted to a hospital.

Initial Coverage Limit – The maximum limit of coverage under the initial coverage period.

Initial Coverage Period – This is the period before your total drug expenses, have reached $2,700 (2009), including amounts you’ve paid and what our Plan has paid on your behalf.

Late Enrollment Penalty – An amount added to your monthly premium for Medicare drug coverage if you go without creditable coverage (coverage that expects to pay, on average, at least as much as standard Medicare prescription drug coverage) for a continuous period of 63 days or more. You pay this higher amount as long as you have a Medicare drug plan. There are some exceptions.

Lock-In – Means that you are “locked-in” to Senior Care Plus providers, except for emergency or urgently needed care or out-of area dialysis services. Neither Medicare nor Senior Care Plus will pay for unauthorized care received through a non-plan provider.

Maximum Charge – The amount charged or the amount Hometown Health Plan determines to be the prevailing charge, whichever is less, for services in the area in which it is performed. Amounts above the maximum allowed amount do not apply towards the out-of-pocket maximum for services from non-plan providers.

Medically Necessary – Services or supplies that are: (1) proper and needed for the diagnosis or treatment of your medical condition (2) are used for the diagnosis, direct care, and treatment of your medical condition (3) meet the standards of good medical practice in the local community, and (4) are not mainly for your convenience or that of your doctor.

Medicare – The Federal health insurance program for people 65 years of age or older, some people under age 65 with certain disabilities, and people with End-Stage Renal Disease (generally those with permanent kidney failure who need dialysis or a kidney transplant).

Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan – Sometimes called Medicare Part C. A plan offered by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide you with all your Medicare Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Medical) benefits. A MA plan offers a specific set of health benefits at the same premium and level of cost-sharing to all people with Medicare who live in the service area covered by the Plan. Medicare Advantage Organizations can offer one or more Medicare Advantage plan in the same service area. A Medicare Advantage Plan can be an HMO, PPO, a Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) Plan, or a Medicare Medical Savings Account (MSA) plan. In most cases, Medicare Advantage Plans also offer Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage). These plans are called Medicare Advantage Plans with Prescription Drug Coverage. Everyone who has Medicare Part A and Part B is eligible to join any Medicare Health Plan that is offered in their area, except people with End-Stage Renal Disease (unless certain exceptions apply).

Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage (Medicare Part D) – Insurance to help pay for outpatient prescription drugs, vaccines, biologicals, and some supplies not covered by Medicare Part A or Part B.

“Medigap” (Medicare Supplement Insurance) Policy – Medicare supplement insurance sold by private insurance companies to fill “gaps” in the Original Medicare Plan coverage. Medigap policies only work with the Original Medicare Plan. (A Medicare Advantage plan is not a Medigap policy.)

Member (Member of our Plan, or “Plan Member”) – A person with Medicare who is eligible to get covered services, who has enrolled in our Plan and whose enrollment has been confirmed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Network Pharmacy – A network pharmacy is a pharmacy where members of our Plan can get their prescription drug benefits. We call them “network pharmacies” because they contract with our Plan. In most cases, your prescriptions are covered only if they are filled at one of our network pharmacies.

Network Provider – “Provider” is the general term we use for doctors, other health care professionals, hospitals, and other health care facilities that are licensed or certified by Medicare and by the State to provide health care services. We call them “network providers” when they have an agreement with our Plan to accept our payment as payment in full, and in some cases to coordinate as well as provide covered services to members of our Plan. Our Plan pays network providers based on the agreements it has with the providers or if the providers agree to provide you with plan-covered services. Network providers may also be referred to as “plan providers.”

Non-Plan Provider or Non-Plan Facility – A provider or facility with which we have not arranged to coordinate or provide covered services to members of our Plan. Non-plan providers are providers that are not employed, owned, or operated by our Plan or are not under contract to deliver covered services to you. As explained in this booklet, most services you get from non-plan providers are not covered by our Plan or Original Medicare.

Office Visit – A visit for covered services to your PCP, specialist, or other providers.

Optional Supplemental Benefits – Non-Medicare-covered benefits that are included in your package of benefits.

Organization Determination – The Medicare Advantage organization has made an organization determination when it, or one of its providers, makes a decision about MA services or payment that you believe you should receive.

Original Medicare Plan – (“Traditional Medicare” or “Fee-for-service” Medicare) The Original Medicare Plan is the way many people get their health care coverage. It is the national pay-per-visit program that lets you go to any doctor, hospital, or other health care provider that accepts Medicare. You must pay the deductible. Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amount, and you pay your share. Original Medicare has two parts: Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance) and is available everywhere in the United States.

Out-of-Network Provider or Out-of-Network Facility – A provider or facility with which we have not arranged to coordinate or provide covered services to members of our Plan. Out-of-network providers are providers that are not employed, owned, or operated by our Plan or are not under contract to deliver covered services to you. Using out-of-network providers or facilities is explained in your “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) in Section 2.

Out-of-Network Pharmacy – A pharmacy that doesn’t have a contract with our Plan to coordinate or provide covered drugs to members of our Plan. As explained in this Evidence of Coverage, most drugs you get from out-of-network pharmacies are not covered by our Plan unless certain conditions apply.

Part C – see “Medicare Advantage (MA) Plan

Part D – The voluntary Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program. (For ease of reference, we will refer to the prescription drug benefit program as Part D.)

Part D Drugs – Drugs that Congress permitted our Plan to offer as part of a standard Medicare prescription drug benefit. We may or may not offer all Part D drugs. (See your formulary for a specific list of covered drugs.) Certain categories of drugs, such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and over-the-counter drugs were specifically excluded by Congress from the standard prescription drug package (see Section 10 for a listing of these drugs). These drugs are not considered Part D drugs.

Prescription Drug/Pharmacy Benefit Manager (PBM) – Companies that contract with Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plans to manage pharmacy services. Senior Care Plus’ Benefit Manager is MedImpact.

Primary Care Physician (PCP) – A health care professional you select to coordinate your health care. Your PCP is responsible for providing or authorizing covered services while you are a plan member. Refer to your “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) for more about PCPs.

Preferred Provider Organization Plan – A Preferred Provider Organization plan is an MA plan that has a network of contracted providers that have agreed to treat plan members for a specified payment amount. A PPO plan must cover all plan benefits whether they are received from network or out-of-network providers. Member cost-sharing may be higher when plan benefits are received from out-of-network providers.

Prior Authorization – Approval in advance to get services and/or certain drugs that may or may not be on our formulary. In an HMO, some in-network services are covered only if your doctor or other network provider gets “prior authorization” from our Plan. Covered services that need prior authorization are marked in the “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) Benefits Chart in Section 10.” Some drugs are covered only if your doctor or other network provider gets “prior authorization” from us. Covered drugs that need prior authorization are marked in the formulary.

Prior Authorization (Part D) – Approval in advance to get certain drugs that may or may not be on our formulary. Some drugs are covered only if your doctor or other plan provider gets “prior authorization” from us. Covered drugs that need prior authorization are marked in the formulary.

Quality Improvement Organization (QIO) – Groups of practicing doctors and other health care experts that are paid by the federal government to check and improve the care given to Medicare patients. They must review your complaints about the quality of care given by Medicare Providers. See Section 8 for information about how to contact the QIO in your state and Section 5 for information about making complaints to the QIO.

Referral – Your PCP’s approval for you to receive certain covered services from plan providers.

Rehabilitation Services – These services include physical therapy, speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy.

Quantity Limits – A management tool that is designed to limit the use of selected drugs for quality, safety, or utilization reasons. Limits may be on the amount of the drug that we cover per prescription or for a defined period of time.

Service Area – “Service area” is the geographic area approved by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) within which an eligible individual may enroll in a certain plan.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Care – A level of care in a SNF ordered by a doctor that must be given or supervised by licensed health care professionals. It may be skilled nursing care, or skilled rehabilitation services, or both. Skilled nursing care includes services that require the skills of a licensed nurse to perform or supervise. Skilled rehabilitation services are physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy. Physical therapy includes exercise to improve the movement and strength of an area of the body, and training on how to use special equipment, such as how to use a walker or get in and out of a wheelchair. Speech therapy includes exercise to regain and strengthen speech and/or swallowing skills. Occupational therapy helps you learn how to perform usual daily activities, such as eating and dressing by yourself.

Step Therapy – A utilization tool that requires you to first try another drug to treat your medical condition before we will cover the drug your physician may have initially prescribed.

Specialist – A doctor who provides health care services for a specific disease or part of the body. Examples include oncologist (care for cancer patients), cardiologist (care of the heart), and orthopedists (care for bones). You do not need a referral to make an office visit appointment with a plan Specialist.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – A monthly benefit paid by the Social Security Administration to people with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 and older. SSI benefits are not the same as Social Security benefits.

Urgently Needed Care – These are different from emergency services. Refer to your “Evidence of Coverage” (EOC) Section 2 which explains “urgently needed” services.