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Compare medical plans
Information and tools to help you choose the medical plan that's right for you.
On this page
- Things to think about when choosing a medical plan
- How do I compare the plans?
- Plan differences to consider
- What type of plan should I select?
- Medical plan options
- What should I consider when choosing a plan to go with Medicare Parts A and B?
- What do I need to know about the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans?
Choosing a medical plan is an important decision. Many people think first about cost and which doctors and hospitals are in the network. All PEBB medical plans, except for Premera Medicare Supplement Plans cover the same basic health care services but vary in other ways, such as provider networks, monthly plan costs, and prescription drug coverage. UnitedHealthcare PEBB Balance and UnitedHealthcare PEBB Complete include Medicare Part D coverage.
When selecting a PEBB medical plan, your options are limited based on eligibility and where you live. You must consider which plans are available in your county and whether you and any eligible dependents you wish to enroll are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. Remember, if you cover eligible dependents, everyone must enroll in the same medical and dental plans (with some exceptions, based on eligibility for Medicare Part A and Part B).
As you research your plan options, consider these questions:
Am I eligible to enroll in the plan?
Not everyone qualifies to enroll in a CDHP with a health savings account (HSA) or a UMP Plus plan. See Health plans with health savings account (non-Medicare) (for CDHP eligibility information).
Do I live in the plan's service area?
In most cases, you must live in a medical plan’s service area to join the plan. See Medical plans available by county. If you move out of your plan's service area, you may need to change your plan. You must report your new address to your personnel, payroll, or benefits office no later than 60 days after your move.
All medical plans, except for Premera Blue Cross Medicare Supplement Plans, cover the same basic health care services but vary in other ways, such as provider networks, premiums, and drug formularies. Get a side-by-side comparison of common medical benefits and costs for services.
- Medical benefits comparison tool (online)
Medical plan benefits comparison
- 2021 (printable)
Medicare plan benefits comparison
- 2021 (printable)
When choosing a plan to best meet your needs, here are some things to consider:
Premiums vary by plan. A higher premium doesn’t necessarily mean higher quality of care or better benefits. Generally, the classic plans have higher premiums than the value plans. However, classic plans may have lower annual deductible, copays, or coinsurance costs. See plan costs to see premiums for all PEBB medical plans.
Most medical plans require you to pay an annual deductible before the plan pays for covered services. For some services, like covered preventive care, you do not have to pay your deductible before the plan covers the service.
Look at the plans' certificate of coverage and Summaries of Benefits and Coverage to find out what is covered and your costs for care. See Benefits and coverage by plan.
Coinsurance or copays
Some plans require you to pay a fixed amount, called a copay. Other plans require you to pay a percentage of an allowed fee when you receive care, called a coinsurance.
The annual out-of-pocket limit is the most you pay in a calendar year for covered benefits. Once you have reached the out-of-pocket limit, the plan pays 100 percent of allowed charges for most covered benefits for the rest of the calendar year. Certain charges (such as your annual deductible, copays, and coinsurance) may count toward your out-of-pocket limit. Others, such as your monthly premiums, do not. Read each plan’s certificate of coverage for details.
Some plans allow you to self-refer to network providers for specialty care. Others require you to have a referral from your primary care provider.
If you want to see a particular provider, you should check whether they are in the plan’s network before you join. After you join a plan, you may change your provider, although the rules vary by plan. See Find a provider.
All health carriers in Washington are required to maintain provider networks that offer members reasonable access to covered services. Check the plans’ provider directories to see how many providers are accepting new patients and what the average wait time is for an appointment. For more information, see Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1099 (Brennen’s Law).
In general, PEBB plans don’t require you to file claims. However, Uniform Medical Plan (UMP) members may need to file a claim if they receive services from a non-network provider. CDHP members also should keep paperwork from providers and from qualified health care expenses to verify eligible payments from their health savings account.
Coordination with your other benefits
All PEBB medical plans coordinate benefit payments with other group plans, Apple Health (Medicaid), and Medicare. This is called coordination of benefits. It ensures the highest level of reimbursement for services when a person is covered by more than one plan. Payment will not exceed the benefit amount. If you are also covered by another health plan, call the plan to ask how they coordinate benefits. This is especially important for those coordinating benefits between the PEBB and SEBB programs, and those enrolled in Apple Health (Medicaid). One exception to coordination of benefits: PEBB medical plans that cover prescription drugs will not coordinate prescription-drug coverage with Medicare Part D. (All PEBB medical plans cover prescription drugs except Premera Blue Cross Medicare Supplement Plan G.) If you enroll in a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan, you must enroll in Plan G or lose your PEBB retiree health plan coverage. Keep in mind that the UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans include Medicare Part D coverage.
How do the PEBB plans work with Medicare?
You must be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B to enroll in the Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement plans. Also, not everyone qualifies to enroll in a CDHP with a health savings account (HSA). See Medicare and PEBB benefits.
Visit the plan websites: Kaiser Permanente NW* plans, Kaiser Permanente WA plans, Medicare Supplement Plans, Uniform Medical Plan (UMP) plans, or UnitedHealthcare plans.
*Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest offers plans in Clark and Cowlitz counties in Washington and select counties in Oregon.
What is a value-based plan and why should i choose one if available in my county of residence?
Value-based plans aim to provide high quality care at a lower cost. Providers have committed to follow evidence-based treatment practices, coordinate care with other providers in your network, and meet certain measures about the quality of care they provide.
Your options are limited to plans that are available in your county and whether you or your covered dependents are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. The PEBB Program offers three types of medical plans.
Consumer-directed health plans
CDHPs let you use a health savings account (HSA) to help pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses tax free, have a lower monthly premium than most plans, and a higher deductible and a higher out-of-pocket limit. Remember, if you cover eligible dependents, everyone must enroll in the same medical and dental plans (with some exceptions, based on eligibility for Medicare Part A and Part B). See Health savings account (HSA).
Managed-care plans may require you to select a primary care provider within its network to fulfill or coordinate all of your health care needs. You can change providers at any time, for any reason within the contracted network. The plan may not pay benefits if you see a noncontracted provider.
Preferred provider organization (PPO) health plans
PPOs allow you to self-refer to any approved provider type in most cases, but usually provide a higher level of coverage if the provider contracts with the plan.
In general, PEBB retirees may choose from the plans listed below. Your options are limited to the plans available in your county and whether you are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B. Remember, if you cover eligible dependents, everyone must enroll in the same medical plan (with some exceptions, based on eligibility for Medicare Part A and Part B).
For members enrolled in Medicare Part A and B. Value-based plans noted in bold.
- Kaiser Permanente NW Senior Advantage
- Kaiser Permanente WA Medicare Plan (Medicare Advantage or Original Medicare coordination plan)
- Medicare Supplement Plan F, administered by Premera Blue Cross
- Medicare Supplement Plan G, administered by Premera Blue Cross
- UMP Classic (Medicare), administered by Regence BlueShield
- UnitedHealthcare PEBB Balance
- UnitedHealthcare PEBB Complete
For members not eligible for Medicare or enrolled in Part A only. Value-based plans noted in bold.
Consumer-directed health plans (CDHPs)
- Kaiser Permanente NW CDHP1
- Kaiser Permanente WA CDHP2
- UMP CDHP, administered by Regence BlueShield
1 Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest offers plans in Clark and Cowlitz counties in Washington and select counties in Oregon.
2 Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington.
(Note: At least one family member must not be enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.)
- Kaiser Permanente NW Classic1
- Kaiser Permanente WA Classic2
- Kaiser Permanente WA SoundChoice2
- Kaiser Permanente WA Value2
1 Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Northwest, with plans offered in Clark and Cowlitz counties in Washington and select counties in Oregon.
2 Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington.
- UMP Classic, administered by Regence BlueShield
- UMP Select, administered by Regence BlueShield
- UMP Plus—Puget Sound High Value Network, administered by Regence BlueShield (Note: Not available to retirees enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.)
- UMP Plus—UW Medicine Accountable Care Network, administered by Regence BlueShield (Note: Not available to retirees enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B.)
- Are the services I need covered?
- How much are premiums, deductibles and other costs?
- How much do I pay for services like hospital stays and doctor visits?
- Do my doctors and other health care providers accept the coverage? Are they part of the plans network?
- Do I need to purchase a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan? Does the plan cover the medications you are currently taking?
- Am I satisfied with the quality of care and services given by the plan?
- Are the doctors and other health care providers conveniently located?
- If I travel, are you covered in another state or outside the US?
Medicare Advantage plans
These plans are available from Kaiser Permanente NW and Kaiser Permanente WA, but are not available in every county. If you or a covered dependent are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you choose Kaiser Permanente NW or Kaiser Permanente WA, you must enroll in the Medicare Advantage plan if they offer it in your county.
These plans contract with Medicare to provide all Medicare-covered benefits; however, most also cover the deductibles, coinsurance, and additional benefits not covered by Medicare. Neither the health plan nor Medicare will pay for services received outside of the plan’s network except for authorized referrals and emergency care.
Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug (MAPD) plans offered by UnitedHealthcare include Medicare Part D coverage and are available nationwide (including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Marianas, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). If you choose an MAPD plan, any enrolled members who are not eligible for Medicare will be enrolled in UMP Classic.
Medicare Advantage plans offered by Kaiser Permanente NW and Kaiser Permanente WA are not available in every county. If you or a covered dependent are enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B, and you choose Kaiser Permanente NW or Kaiser Permanente WA, you must enroll in the Medicare Advantage plan if they offer it in your county. Kaiser Permanente WA also offers an Original Medicare plan for Medicare retirees who live in a county not served by the Kaiser Permanente WA Medicare Advantage plan.
Enrollment in the Medicare Advantage or MAPD plans may not be retroactive. Your enrollment is effective the first of the month after we receive your enrollment forms, or when you enroll in both Medicare Parts A and B, whichever is later. This date may be different from your retirement date. If we receive the forms after the date your enrollment in PEBB retiree insurance coverage is to begin, you may not select a Medicare Advantage or MAPD plan until a special open enrollment or the next annual open enrollment.
Medicare Supplement Plan G, administered by Premera Blue Cross
Premera Blue Cross Medicare Supplement Plan G lets you use any Medicare-contracted physician or hospital nationwide. This plan supplements your Original Medicare coverage by reducing most of your out-of-pocket expenses and providing additional benefits. It pays most deductibles, coinsurance, and copays covered by Medicare. If you choose Plan G, any enrolled members who are not eligible for Medicare will be enrolled in UMP Classic.
Medicare Supplement Plan G does not include prescription drug coverage. If you select this plan, you may have to enroll in Medicare Part D to get your prescriptions, unless you have other creditable prescription drug coverage. Visit Medicare Supplement Plan G for more information.