If you’re shopping for Medicare plans in Arizona, you’ve likely already come across a lot of information. That’s because you have a lot of options.
The first step toward choosing the coverage that best suits your needs is understanding how the different parts of Medicare work.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported the following information on Medicare trends in Arizona for the 2021 plan year:
- A total of 1,358,629 residents of Arizona were enrolled in Medicare.
- The average Medicare Advantage monthly premium decreased in Arizona compared to last year — from $12.50 in 2020 down to $12.25 in 2021.
- There are 120 Medicare Advantage plans available in Arizona for 2021, compared to 105 plans in 2020.
- All Arizona residents with Medicare have access to buy a Medicare Advantage plan, including plans with $0 premiums.
- There are 32 stand-alone Medicare Part D plans available in Arizona for 2021, compared to 31 plans in 2020.
- All Arizona residents with a stand-alone Part D plan have access to a plan with a lower monthly premium than they paid in 2020.
- There are 12 different Medigap plans offered in Arizona for 2021.
Medicare is a national program for people ages 65 and over, as well as for people of any age with certain health conditions. Original Medicare comes directly from the federal government and includes some basic coverage for outpatient and inpatient healthcare services.
Medicare is made up of different parts. Original Medicare, which is basic coverage, has two parts:
- Part A covers a portion of the costs for the inpatient care you get in the hospital, a skilled nursing facility, or hospice, as well as some limited home health services.
- Part B covers a portion of the costs for services and supplies you receive when you see a doctor or specialist.
Parts A and B cover a portion of these costs. They don’t cover things like prescription drugs, dental, or vision care. To supplement or replace your original Medicare coverage, you can purchase plans from private insurance companies.
Medicare Advantage in Arizona
Medicare Advantage plans offer an “all-in-one” replacement for original Medicare. Part C plans include all the same coverage as parts A and B — and more.
They usually include prescription drug benefits; lower out-of-pocket costs when you seek care; and extras like dental, vision, and hearing benefits. Medicare Advantage plans often offer health and wellness benefits too, such as fitness programs or health coaching to support you in managing chronic conditions.
If you decide to go with a Medicare Advantage plan, you have plenty of choices in Arizona. Keep in mind, though, that not all of these plans are available in all counties. Availability varies depending on where you live.
Here are some of the private insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage plans in Arizona for 2021:
- Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
- Bright Health
- Lasso Healthcare
Medicare supplement plans in Arizona
Medicare supplement (Medigap) plans help cover the gaps in original Medicare coverage, which might include copays and coinsurance, as well as coverage for services that original Medicare doesn’t cover at all. You can purchase these plans in addition to having parts A and B.
In Arizona, many insurance companies offer Medigap plans. As of 2021, some of the companies offering Medigap plans in Arizona include:
- AARP – UnitedHealthcare
- American Retirement
- Bankers Fidelity
- BlueCross BlueShield of Arizona
- Colonial Penn
- Garden State
- Sentinel Security
- State Farm
In total, you have 12 different types of Medigap plans (including high-deductible versions of plans F and G) that are available to choose from this year if you live in Arizona.
You can enroll in Medicare if you meet at least one of the following requirements:
- you are age 65 or over
- you are living with a qualifying disability
- you have end stage renal disease (ESRD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called Lou Gehrig’s disease
Your initial enrollment period begins 3 months before you turn age 65 and continues for 3 months after your 65th birthday.
It usually makes sense to at least enroll in Part A during this period. Even you’re not ready to retire, Part A benefits can coordinate with your employer-sponsored coverage and likely won’t cost you anything. If you choose not to enroll in Part B during this time, you likely will qualify for a special enrollment period later.
Other enrollment periods include:
- Medigap initial enrollment. You can enroll in a Medigap plan for up to 6 months after you turn age 65.
- General enrollment. From January 1 through March 31, you may enroll in a Medicare plan or Medicare Advantage plan if you did not enroll during your initial enrollment period.
- Medicare Part D/Add-ons enrollment. From April 1 through June 30, if you don’t have Medicare Part A, but you enrolled in Part B during the general enrollment period, you can choose a Part D prescription drug plan.
- Open enrollment. From October 15 through December 7, you may enroll in, drop out of, or change your Part C or Part D plan, or you may switch back to original Medicare.
- Special enrollment. For an approved reason, you may qualify for a special enrollment period of 8 months during which you may enroll in Medicare or switch your Part C, Part D, or Medigap plan.
Tips for enrolling in Medicare in Arizona
Medicare Advantage plans vary in structure and design. Some may be Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans that require you to choose a primary care physician, who then refers you to other doctors as needed. Others plans may be Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans that allow you to see in-network specialists without getting a referral.
When you’re shopping for Medicare Advantage plans in Arizona, you’ll want to consider factors like:
- Cost. How much are the premiums? How much will you need to pay when you see a doctor or fill a prescription?
- Provider network. Does the plan’s provider network include doctors and hospitals that are convenient for you? What if you need to seek care while traveling outside the network area?
- Covered services. Does the plan suit your needs for dental, vision, or hearing services?
- Included programs. Are you likely to use the plan’s member perks and programs?
The following resources can be useful in learning moreabout Arizona Medicare coverage options:
- Arizona Department of Insurance
- Choosing a Medigap Policy: A Guide to Health Insurance for People with Medicare, from the Arizona Department of Insurance
- Social Security Administration
What should I do next?
If you’re ready to investigate plan options and begin the enrollment process, consider these steps:
- Do some research on the specific Medicare plans available to you. The list above can be a good starting point. It might also be useful to talk with an experienced insurance agent who sells Medicare plans in Arizona and can offer guidance tailored to your individual situation.
- Read some reviews to see what other people are saying about plans you might be considering and their coverage. You could also ask trusted friends or acquaintances about their Medicare plans.
- Sign up for Medicare online through the Social Security Administration website. The application takes just minutes to complete. The site even includes a checklist to make it easier for you to gather the information you need.
- Over 1.3 million people in Arizona were enrolled in Medicare in 2020.
- There are several private insurance companies offering various types of Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans in Arizona.
- Overall, monthly premium costs have decreased for 2021 Medicare Advantage plans in Arizona.