What's Going On With St. Charles & Medicare?

Eagle Wealth Management |

As you may have heard, some hospitals, including St. Charles in Central Oregon, recently announced that locals with a Medicare Advantage plan should strongly consider switching to traditional Medicare as the hospital may stop accepting Medicare Advantage plans soon.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • At this point, St. Charles still accepts Medicare Advantage, but they are currently in the process of deciding whether or not they will continue to do so.
  • If they decide not to accept it anymore, the decision could take effect as soon as this fall. All those affected will get 30 days’ notice.
  • With the Medicare open enrollment period starting October 15, many people with Medicare Advantage may want to consider switching to original Medicare along with a supplemental plan.

As far as why they’ve reached this point, St. Charles basically says Medicare Advantage is full of delays, fuzzy coverage, and red tape that make it harder and more expensive to provide care for patients.

From the patient perspective, it’s a little harder to understand. Medicare Advantage is seen by many to be a friendlier bundled version of Medicare, with lower premiums, limits on annual out-of-pocket expenses, and extended coverage in many cases.  But those lower premiums and bundled services often leave some gaps that can cause larger unexpected expenses. 

Meanwhile, original Medicare without any supplemental plans has some significant coverage gaps. That's why it is highly recommended for most people to purchase a Medicare Supplemental plan and perhaps a prescription plan to help fill that void. This is considered to be the most comprehensive coverage, but at a potentially higher cost than Medicare Advantage plans.

Here's a short list of some core differences between Medicare Advantage and original Medicare so you can start thinking through which makes the most sense for you. This is by no means an exhaustive list:

This info is taken directly from Medicare’s site, which you can read here if you want to learn more.

Needless to say, with St. Charles being the only real local option here in Bend, this decision could have a huge impact on our community.

So what should you do?

It depends on your situation, but if you have Medicare Advantage and live in the local area, we highly recommend having a backup plan ready to go. While St. Charles said they are just “re-evaluating” at the moment, the fact they announced this publicly tells us they’re pretty serious about it.

If you need help with your decision, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We have some recommendations for Medicare Insurance specialists that can help you with this decision. But they are going to get really busy, so don't be surprised if there are delays in service.

Until next week,

Your Eagle Wealth Team


The Week on Wall Street

Concerns that the Fed may raise interest rates soured investor sentiment, sending stocks lower in a holiday-shortened trading week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.75%, while the Standard & Poor’s 500 declined 1.29%. The Nasdaq Composite index dropped 1.93% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, lost 1.28%.1,2,3

Stocks Resume Their Decline

Stocks were bedeviled by rising bond yields and higher oil prices last week, with technology shares bearing the brunt of the decline. Hopes that the Fed may not find it necessary to raise interest rates were dented by economic data reflecting higher prices, rising labor costs, and fewer-than-forecast initial jobless claims. 

The inflationary implications of higher oil prices also contributed to the growing sense that the Fed may implement additional rate hikes. While bond traders generally still expect no rate hike in September, the likelihood of a 0.25% rate hike or higher in November jumped to 43.3% by Friday morning from 35.4% a week ago.4

Oil Prices Spike

Last week, Saudi Arabia and Russia announced they would extend their oil production cuts to the end of the year. Investors had expected these cuts to be stretched to October, so the three-month extension surprised the markets.

The announcement sent oil prices higher on supply shortage worries in the coming winter months, with the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil price climbing to a 10-month high.5

Higher oil prices also sparked concerns that it would make the Fed’s inflation fight more difficult, potentially forcing the Fed to hike rates above market expectations.

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1. The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2023

2. The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2023

3. The Wall Street Journal, September 8, 2023

4. CME Group, September 8, 2023

5. Reuters, September 5, 2023

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