What are Medicare Advantage Plans and Can I Get One in Arizona?
Traditional Medicare covers about 80% of all major medical costs. It does not cover minor medical for things like vision, hearing, dental, and prescriptions. The Medicare Advantage plans available in Arizona can include minor medical benefits, but are not required to. Most do include coverage for prescriptions.
While it is nice to have coverage for minor medical costs, it is critical that you understand exactly what you get when you join a Medicare Advantage plan in Arizona. In particular, you need to know that these plans have complete control over your access to doctors and other healthcare providers. If you've ever had a managed care plan (HMO, PPO, etc.) through an employer, then you already know what to expect.
Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage: What's the Difference?
The big differences between traditional Medicare coverage and what you get with Medicare Advantage are easy to see by pointing out the pros and cons. Neither type of insurance is perfect. They each suit different needs.
Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare: The Pros and Cons
- Doctor Choice:
- Medicare Advantage: Must use healthcare providers within the plan's network.
- Original Medicare: Use any Medicare-approved provider you choose.
- Medicare Advantage: Each plan can charge what they want for copays and coinsurance, making it challenging to compare actual costs.
- Original Medicare: Coinsurance and deductibles are predictable and you can get a Medicare supplement to help pay these costs.
- Medicare Advantage: You're protected by the plan's annual maximum out-of-pocket (MOOP) limit. Once you reach this spending limit the plan pays all additional copays and coinsurance for the rest of the year.
- Original Medicare: No out-of-pocket limit.
- Medicare Advantage: Most plans come bundled with a Medicare Part D plan for prescription coverage.
- Original Medicare: You must buy a stand-alone Medicare Part D plan.
- Medicare Advantage: You're covered for travel emergencies within the USA but not for routine doctor visits outside of your home county.
- Original Medicare: You're covered anywhere you go in the USA and its territories.
Medicare Advantage vs. Medigap
Most Arizona seniors just getting their Medicare benefits want to know which type of plan is better. We commonly see these three questions:
- Why are Medicare Advantage plans bad?
- What are the disadvantages of Medicare Advantage plans?
- Is it better to have Medicare Advantage or Medigap?
Let's take a minute or two to compare and contrast, shall we?
Why Arizona Medicare Advantage Plans are Bad
First things first. Medicare Advantage plans are not bad. More than 20% of all Medicare beneficiaries in Arizona have a Medicare Advantage plan. But, it's not for everyone.
In particular, if you have one or more chronic conditions, Original Medicare could be a better option because you have the ability to choose your doctors. MedicareWire believes that Medicare Advantage is the best option for healthy people and for people who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid.
Conversely, Original Medicare and a Medicare supplement work best for people with chronic health conditions (based on overall cost), as well as those who can afford a higher monthly premium, even when they are well.
Are There Disadvantages to Joining a Medicare Advantage Plan in Arizona?
As you have already read, both Medicare Advantage and traditional Medicare have their benefits. But the two types of coverage are like apples and oranges. However, if you remove the issue of doctor choice from the equation, the primary difference is when and how you pay.
With Medicare Advantage you pay a little each month (with some plans you pay nothing). This is the monthly premium. But you also pay a copay when you use most medical services, and they add up fast. However, with traditional Medicare and a Medigap plan for supplemental coverage, you pay for most of your costs in advance with a higher premium. This makes your health care costs predictable, and for most people on a fixed budget, that's very comforting.
When Should I Consider Medigap Instead of Medicare Advantage?
- If you can afford Medigap Plan F or G, then keep your Original Medicare and add one of these supplements.
- If you are a healthy senior and have good health in your family heritage, Medigap Plan N will let you save money by sharing some costs when you see your doctor.
- If you are a healthy senior but you cannot afford a Medigap Plan F, G, or N, Medicare Advantage is a good choice.
- If you are turning age 65, have one or more chronic health conditions that require frequent doctor visits, and you do not qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid (dual eligible), the most Medigap coverage you can afford is the best option.
- If you qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid, regardless of your health condition, Medicare Advantage is your best option.
- If you have special needs (i.e., a full-time nursing home resident, diabetes, etc.) and an appropriate Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan (SNP) is available, this is your best option.
Frequently Asked Questions About Arizona Medicare Advantage Plans
Arizona Medicare Advantage plans are not statewide, they are local. So, the only way to answer this question is to enter your zipcode here.
Most Medicare Advantage plans available in Arizona include a Part D plan, but not all. Before joining a plan, be sure to check that all of your most important medications are covered. You can do that with this tool.
While not for everyone, Medicare Advantage plans have their benefits. The best way to understand these plans is to evaluate your health and financial situation. Here is an article that will help you make the right choice.