Our senior citizens have a number of options for Medicare coverage when they age into the system at 65 years old. In addition to automatically being eligible for Original Medicare, which is made up for Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance), seniors can choose to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan (also called Part C coverage) either when they first become eligible due to age during the seven-month initial enrollment period around their 65th birthday or they can switch into a Medicare Advantage plan from Original Medicare during the annual election period, which runs from October 15th to December 7th each year.
There are many insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans either with or without prescription drug coverage, which is called Medicare Part D. It’s important as a consumer to weigh the pros and cons of maintaining an Original Medicare plan versus a Medicare Advantage plan.
One specific thing to consider is cost. Original Medicare is fairly affordable because usually consumers receive premium-free Part A coverage if they worked and paid Medicare taxes for at least ten years of their lives. In addition, consumers need to pay a premium based on their annual income for Part B coverage and Part D prescription drug coverage. The costs can increase if they choose to also take on additional, supplemental coverage in the form of a Medigap plan, which can help cover out-of-pocket expenses that may come up during the year. Medicare Advantage plans can cost more than an Original Medicare plan if the person chooses to take on a better or higher level plan. For instance, a Medicare Advantage recipient must always pay the cost of the premium for Medicare Part B, which is again based on their income, plus they may pay extra if their Medicare Advantage plan has more benefits such as a better prescription drug plan, better coverage and out-of-pocket coverage options and adds on a dental plan, hearing and eye plan.
There are different carriers that offer Medicare Advantage plans in different states and every plan is different. In order for a carrier to be permitted to sell a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan in a state, they must apply and be approved by the Medicare program. Just because they are approved to sell plans in a particular plan does not always mean that they do, so while the below state information mentions the number of carriers that can offer plans in a particular state, the number that actually have plan available to seniors may be much different.
The bottom line is that doing research is vital and necessary in order to make sure that you have the right Medicare plan for your financial and medical needs. Below is an outline of the different types of plans and carriers that offer Medicare Advantage plans in each state.