What are Medicare Advantage Plans and Can I Get One in Arkansas?
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 Arkansas 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 Arkansas. 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 Supplements vs. Medicare Advantage
We're frequently asked:
- 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 just a minute to dispel any misconception that these plans are bad or might have serious disadvantages.
Why Arkansas Medicare Advantage Plans are Bad
First things first. Medicare Advantage plans are not bad. More than 20% of all Medicare beneficiaries in Arkansas have a Medicare Advantage plan. But, it's not for everyone.
A good way to figure out which coverage is best for you is to look at your health and your finances. If you have one or more chronic conditions and you can afford a supplement, traditional Medicare is likely the best option because you have the ability to choose your doctors. Conversely, if you are super healthy, or you are unable to afford a Medicare supplement, then Medicare Advantage is a viable option.
Here's the fundamental truth. Medicare plus a Medigap plan works best for people with chronic health conditions. It's also the best coverage for people who can afford a higher monthly premium, even if they rarely see a doctor.
The Disadvantage of Medicare Advantage Plans if You Live in Arkansas
The disadvantage of Medicare Advantage plans is the strength of Arkansas Medigap plans. You see, when you take doctor choice out of the equation, the big difference between Medicare Advantage and Medigap is when you pay for services.
Medicare Advantage plans have a monthly premium, but it's generally less than a Medicare supplement, and some plans even have a $0 premium. But, you also pay when you use health care. These are the copays.
With a Medicare supplement plan you pay most of your costs in advance with monthly premiums. Depending on the level of coverage you choose, the plan can cover all of your copays, coinsurance, and deductibles except the annual Part B deductible. This makes your monthly healthcare costs more predictable, particularly if or when you have serious health problems.
Which is Best in Arkansas, Medicare Advantage or Medicare Supplement Insurance?
- 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 Arkansas Medicare Advantage Plans
Arkansas Medicare Advantage plans are not statewide, they are local. So, the only way to answer this question is to enter your zipcode here.
One of the best features of Arkansas Medicare Advantage plans is the extra benefits, including prescription drug coverage. Most plans include Part D, but not all. You can quickly see with plans offer it in your area by entering your zip code in this tool.
To understand the pros and cons of Medicare Advantage, you need to compare it with Original Medicare and factor in your health and financial situation. This article can help you compare which type of plan is best.