Medicare is the U.S. government’s health insurance plan for older adults and certain younger people with disabilities. In Arkansas, about 641,000 people get health coverage through Medicare.
Read on to learn about Medicare Arkansas, including who’s eligible, how to enroll, and how to choose the best Medicare plan for your needs.
When you sign up for Medicare in Arkansas, you can choose either original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan.
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, home health care, 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.
Private companies offer extra coverage for people with original Medicare. You may opt to sign up for one or both of these policies:
- Part D (drug coverage). Part D plans help you pay for prescription drugs. They don’t cover over-the-counter medications.
- Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap). 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.
Medicare Advantage 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 companies1:
- Care Improvement Plus South Central Insurance Co.
- Arcadian Health Plan, Inc.
- Arkansas Health and Wellness Health Plan, Inc.
- Harmony Health Plan, Inc.
- UnitedHealthcare of Arkansas, Inc.
- Humana Insurance Company
- Coventry Health and Life Insurance Company
- Usable Mutual Insurance Company
- Sierra Health and Life Insurance Company, Inc.
- HMO Partners, Inc.
- Aetna Life Insurance Company
- HealthSpring Life and Health Insurance Company, Inc.
- CompBenefits Insurance Company
- Arkansas Superior Select, Inc.
- Union Pacific Railroad Employees Health Systems
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:
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:
- Original enrollment. You may enroll in Medicare parts A and B from three months before until three months after your 65th birthday.
- Medigap enrollment. You may enroll in a supplemental Medigap policy for up to six months after you turn 65.
- Late enrollment. You may enroll in a Medicare plan or Medicare Advantage plan each year from Jan. 1 to March 31 if you didn’t sign up when you were first eligible.
- Medicare Part D enrollment. You may enroll in a Part D plan each year from April 1 to June 30 if you didn’t sign up when you were first eligible.
- Plan change enrollment. You can enroll in, drop out of, or change your Medicare Part C or Part D plan each year from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, during the open enrollment period.
- Special enrollment. Under special circumstances, you may qualify for a special enrollment period of eight months.
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 five stars, with five 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 the Medicare.gov 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:
- The Social Security Administration 800-772-1213
- Arkansas State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIIP) 501-371-2782
When you’re ready to enroll in a Medicare plan, you can: