With a population of just over 3 million, there are more than 630,000 Arkansas residents enrolled in Medicare. About one-in-five are enrolled in Medicare Advantage Plans, with each county offering between nine and 31 different plans. However, 22% of Medicare beneficiaries are eligible because of a disability rather than their age. Arkansas also offers 26 standalone prescription drug plans with premiums that range into the low hundreds.
If you live in Arkansas, are 65 or older, or have a disability, you may be wondering what Medicare plan is right for you based on all the different options available. Here are some facts to consider to find the plan that’s right for you.
Medicare Part A and Part B
Also known as Original Medicare, Medicare Part A and Part B are the two plans that cover your inpatient and outpatient services. You can automatically be enrolled in Part A if you receive Social Security benefits but will have to enroll yourself for Part B. If you’re automatically enrolled in Part A, you should be free of the premium payment. However, without a Medicare Supplement plan, you’ll be expected to pay quite a few out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles.
Thirty-five different insurers throughout Arkansas offer Medicare Supplements that help cover the extra costs or “gaps” that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. Premium payments for each insurer varies, but it’s important to note that Arkansas is one of eight states where the premium is not based on the age of who is enrolling. However, it can be based on your medical past or your tobacco use.
Medicare Advantage Plans
Medicare Advantage Plans are available in every county in Arkansas, with 31 plans available in Carroll and Pulaski counties. By enrolling in Medicare Advantage, you’re deciding to turn down benefits from Medicare Parts A and B, but are still receiving those same benefits with Medicare Advantage. You’ll also receive additional benefits, such as dental or vision coverage.
Medicare Part D
If you’re looking for prescription drug coverage and you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, then you should consider investing in Medicare Part D. Part D can be integrated into a Medicare Advantage Plan if you have that instead of Original Medicare, or you can invest in one of the 26 standalone plans offered in Arkansas.
What should determine your decision?
Many factors should be considered when it comes to choosing a Medicare plan. Technically, there aren’t any wrong answers regarding your decision on a Medicare plan, but there are still factors that could cause you to be unsatisfied with what you choose. You should consider any medical conditions or disabilities you might have and if you missed previous enrollment periods. You should also be aware of which plan offers you the extra benefits you’re looking for and what you’ll be paying for the premium and other out-of-pocket costs. It’s also important to focus on factors regarding travel plans, how big the network is, the availability of specific plans within your area, and if there’s any flexibility to switch to a different plan if you are not satisfied with its coverage.