Medicare is the U.S. government’s health insurance plan for adults age 65 and older and people with disabilities or health conditions. Read on to learn about Medicare Arkansas, including available plan options, how to enroll, and how to choose the best Medicare plan for your needs.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported the following information on Medicare trends in Arkansas for the 2021 plan year:

  • A total of 645,420 residents of Arkansas are enrolled in Medicare.
  • The average Medicare Advantage monthly premium decreased in Arkansas compared to last year — from $15.06 in 2020 to $14.49 in 2021.
  • There are 84 Medicare Advantage plans available in Arkansas for 2021, compared to 66 plans in 2020.
  • All Arkansas residents with Medicare have access to buy a Medicare Advantage plan, including plans with $0 premiums.
  • There are 12 different Medigap plans offered in Arkansas for 2021.

When you sign up for Medicare in Arkansas, you can choose either original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan.

Original Medicare

Original Medicare is the traditional program run by the federal government. The program has two parts, and you can sign up for one or both:

  • Part A (hospital insurance). Medicare Part A helps you pay for inpatient hospital stays. It also covers hospice care, limited home healthcare, and short-term skilled nursing facility care.
  • Part B (medical insurance). Medicare Part B covers a wide range of preventative and medically necessary services. These include physical exams, doctor services, and health screenings.

Medicare Advantage in Arkansas

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are a different way to get your Medicare coverage. They’re offered by private companies that contract with Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans need to include all Medicare parts A and B services. These bundled plans may offer many additional benefits, including:

As an Arkansas resident, you have plenty of Medicare Advantage options. This year, you can get a plan from the following companies:

These companies offer plans in many counties in Arkansas. However, Medicare Advantage plan offerings vary by county, so enter your specific ZIP code when searching for plans where you live.

Medicare supplement plans in Arkansas

Medicare supplement insurance (Medigap) plans cover some or all of your Medicare coinsurance, copayments, and deductibles. These standardized plans are identified by letters: A, B, C, D, F, G, K, L, M, and N.

Many companies offer Medigap plans in Arkansas. In 2021, some of the companies offering Medigap plans throughout the state include:

Many people in Arkansas can qualify for Medicare at age 65. You’ll be eligible when you turn 65 as long as one of the following is true:

  • you already receive Social Security retirement benefits or you qualify for them
  • you’re a citizen or permanent resident of the United States

You may be able to get Medicare before your 65th birthday. You’re eligible at any age if you:

When can I enroll in Medicare Arkansas plans?

If you’re eligible for Medicare, there are several times during the year when you may enroll in Medicare plans. Here are the Medicare enrollment periods:

  • Initial enrollment. You may enroll in Medicare parts A and B from 3 months before until 3 months after your 65th birthday.
  • General enrollment. You may enroll in a Medicare plan or Medicare Advantage plan each year from January 1 to March 31 if you didn’t sign up when you were first eligible.
  • Open enrollment. You can enroll in, drop out of, or change your Medicare Part C or Part D plan each year from October 15 to December 7, during the open enrollment period.
  • Medigap enrollment. You may enroll in a supplemental Medigap policy for up to 6 months after you turn 65.
  • Special enrollment. Under special circumstances, you may qualify for a special enrollment period of 8 months.

Tips for enrolling in Medicare in Arkansas

There are many Medicare Advantage plans in Arkansas. To narrow your options, keep these things in mind:

  • Coverage needs. Many Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage that original Medicare doesn’t, such as dental, vision, and hearing coverage. Make a list of the benefits you want, and refer to it as you compare plans.
  • Plan performance. Every year, The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes performance data for Medicare plans. Plans are rated from one to 5 stars, with 5 being the best.
  • Out-of-pocket costs. Premiums, deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance will affect how much you pay for your health coverage. You can use Medicare’s plan finder tool to compare costs for specific Medicare Advantage plans.
  • Provider network. To use your Medicare Advantage coverage, you may need to get care from doctors, specialists, and hospitals in the plan’s network. Before choosing a plan, verify that your doctors are in the network.
  • Travel coverage. Medicare Advantage plans don’t always cover care you receive outside of the plan’s service area. If you’re a frequent traveler, make sure your plan will cover you while you’re away from home.

If you have questions about Medicare plans in Arkansas, you can contact:

  • More than 600,000 Arkansas residents are enrolled in Medicare.
  • There are several private insurance companies offering various types of Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans throughout the state.
  • Overall, monthly premium costs have decreased for 2021 Medicare Advantage plans in Arkansas.
  • There are also several Medigap plan options if you live in Arkansas and are looking for additional coverage.