Medicare Plan Options
Original Medicare provides basic coverage for seniors and may be a smart money-saving option for those with limited health care needs. While this coverage plays an important role in controlling your health care costs as you age, its benefits may not meet all of your needs. If you’re looking for more robust coverage, numerous private health insurance companies in the state have plans that work alongside Original Medicare or provide an all-inclusive alternative through Arkansas’s Medicare Advantage program.
Original Medicare is the government health care plan for those aged 65 and over. In most cases, once you turn 65, you’re automatically enrolled in Part A and Part B. If you aren’t automatically enrolled because you’re not yet drawing Social Security or Railroad Retirement Board benefits, then you can enroll any time during your initial enrollment period. Part A pays a portion of inpatient hospital expenses, and Part B pays for medical expenses, such as routine checkups with your primary care doctor, preventative care and screenings, and mental health services.
Medicare Advantage Plans
While Original Medicare may provide adequate coverage if you don’t require more than annual checkups, there are a variety of ordinary health care expenses not covered by this program, including most dental services, vision care, and prescription drugs. Medicare Advantage, also known as Part C, is a type of plan provided by private health insurance companies. These plans include the benefits offered by Original Medicare Parts A and B but also typically include coverage for vision, hearing, and dental services and prescription drugs. Depending on your plan, you may have to obtain services from in-network providers and get referrals to see specialists. Cost-sharing expenses such as copays, deductibles, and premiums vary.
Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage Plans
Prescription drug coverage, or Part D, is optional coverage offered by private insurers that helps control the cost of prescription drugs. These plans are mainly for those enrolled in Original Medicare, but if you have a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t include prescription drug coverage, you may be able to add it depending on your plan type. You can sign up for Part D during your initial enrollment period. You can also sign up for it during the open enrollment period, but you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty for the duration of your policy.
Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans
Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans are policies you can add to your Original Medicare coverage. These plans are sold by private insurance companies and help pay for some expenses not covered by Original Medicare. These may include deductibles, copays, coinsurance, and care that you obtain when traveling abroad. There are 10 types of Medigap policies, and they’re standardized, meaning everyone who has Plan A gets the same coverage no matter who they buy their policy from. Companies that sell Medigap don’t have to sell every plan type, so what’s available to you may depend on where you live.
Medicare in Arkansas by the Numbers
|People enrolled in Original Medicare||Average plan cost||Annual state spending per beneficiary||Spending per beneficiary compared to the national average|
|450,905||Plan A: $0 to $471 per month*
Plan B: $148.50 per month**
*Most people pay no premium, but this can vary depending on how long they paid Medicare taxes.
**This is the average number, but it can vary based on income.
Medicare Resources in Arkansas
Finding a health insurance policy that fits your needs and budget starts with connecting with professionals who can help you evaluate your current and future health expenses. Fortunately, Arkansas has several agencies that specialize in helping you make educated decisions about health insurance. Through the following agencies, you can get one-on-one help with understanding your Medicare benefits, protecting yourself from fraud, and appealing denied claims.
Arkansas Insurance Department
The Arkansas Insurance Department regulates health insurance companies that sell policies in the state. It advocates on your behalf and can help you find information about your health insurance policy or file complaints against your insurer. The department also provides important information on Medicare enrollment periods and finding income-based extra help programs that can cut down on your out-of-pocket expenses.
Contact Information: Website | 501-371-2600
Arkansas Senior Health Insurance Information Program
AR SHIIP is the statewide Senior Health Insurance Program that you can access for free, unbiased assistance with choosing a health insurance policy. The program is administered through volunteers who are trained to answer questions about Original Medicare’s benefits and costs. They can also help you find available Medicare Advantage, Medigap, and prescription drug plans in your area and sign up for one that fits your needs and budget.
Contact Information: Website | 501-371-2782
Area Agencies on Aging
Arkansas has eight Area Agencies on Aging, each of which serves a specific region of the state. Through your local AAA, you can connect with AR SHIIP counselors. These counselors aren’t affiliated with any insurance companies and aren’t licensed to sell policies, but they can provide you with the information you need to make educated decisions about your health insurance coverage.
Contact Information: Website | 866-739-7751
Center for Arkansas Legal Services
CALS is a nonprofit organization that provides free civil legal services to income-qualifying individuals in its 44-county region. It’s staffed by volunteer legal professionals who can help with issues related to Medicare, including disputing denied claims or dropped coverage and addressing billing errors.
Contact Information: Website | 501-376-3423
Senior Medicare Patrol
The statewide SMP program provides information about health care waste and what you can do to protect yourself from identity theft, overbilling, or fraudulent activity. Through this program, volunteers engage the community through presentations or booths at events and educate seniors on how to recognize Medicare and health care scams and errors on medical bills, such as bills for services or equipment you never received. Volunteers also provide one-on-one assistance and field and investigate reports of Medicare fraud, waste, or abuse.
Contact Information: Website | 866-726-2916
Learn More From Our Sources
- Medicare | What Medicare covers Last accessed May 2021
- Medicare | Part A & Part B sign up periods Last accessed May 2021
- Medicare | How do Medicare Advantage Plans work? Last accessed May 2021
- Medicare | How to get prescription drug coverage Last accessed May 2021
- Medicare | Joining a health or drug plan Last accessed May 2021
- Medicare | Part D late enrollment penalty Last accessed May 2021
- Medicare | What’s Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)? Last accessed May 2021
- Medicare | How to compare Medigap policies Last accessed May 2021