For people age 65 and older and those with disabilities or certain health conditions, Medicare in Tennessee can provide comprehensive health insurance coverage.
By considering the options available, you can get the health coverage — from original Medicare to Medicare Advantage plans — that works best for you in 2021.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported the following information on Medicare trends in Tennessee for the 2021 plan year:
- A total of 1,380,678 residents of Tennessee are enrolled in Medicare.
- The average Medicare Advantage monthly premium slightly decreased in Tennessee compared to last year — from $21.72 in 2020 to $20.82 in 2021.
- There are 117 Medicare Advantage plans available in Tennessee for 2021, compared to 97 plans in 2020.
- All Tennessee residents with Medicare have access to buy a Medicare Advantage plan, including plans with $0 premiums.
- There are 12 different Medigap plans offered in Tennessee for 2021.
You have several options for Medicare in Tennessee. Depending on your needs, you may choose original Medicare with or without additional supplements, such as Medicare Advantage (Part C) or Medicare supplement (Medigap) plans.
Most people are automatically enrolled in original Medicare once they turn 65 years old. Original Medicare is provided through the federal government and is made up of Part A and Part B. It provides coverage for all your basic healthcare needs, including:
- Hospital care. Part A covers inpatient hospital care, short-term skilled nursing facility care, and limited home healthcare.
- Medical care. Part B covers annual physical examinations, blood work, X-rays, durable medical equipment, and emergency ambulance services.
Medicare Advantage in Tennessee
If you’d like more coverage or to bundle all your coverage into one plan, you may decide to purchase a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan instead. These are insurance plans bought from private health insurance carriers.
Part C plans provide all the basic coverage offered by original Medicare Tennessee, as well as drug coverage. Some plans will also offer more extensive coverage, including services such as hearing tests, dental care, or even wellness programs.
Medicare Advantage plans in Tennessee are offered by private health insurance carriers that vary by county. The following providers offer Medicare Advantage plans in Tennessee:
- Aetna Medicare
- Ascension Complete
- BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee
- Bright Health
- Clover Health
Each of these carriers offers several plans with varying premiums and coverage options that work with a different network of doctors and pharmacies.
When searching for plans, use your ZIP code to make sure the plans you’re comparing are all available in your county.
Medicare supplement plans in Tennessee
Original Medicare doesn’t pay for all of your healthcare costs. To cover these costs, you may decide to buy Medicare supplement insurance, also called Medigap. These policies can help you pay for deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.
Many companies offer Medigap plans in Tennessee. In 2021, some of the companies offering Medigap plans throughout the state include:
To be eligible for Medicare in Tennessee, you must be:
- a resident of Tennessee
- a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- over age 65
- have a disability, end stage renal disease (ESRD), or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at any age
When can I enroll in Medicare Tennessee plans?
There are two annual enrollment periods for Medicare plans in Tennessee: general enrollment and open enrollment.
The Medicare general enrollment period is from January 1 through March 31. The Medicare open enrollment period stretches from October 15 through December 7. During both, you can enroll in original Medicare in Tennessee, add drug coverage, or even switch to an Advantage plan.
Around the time of your 65th birthday, you’ll become eligible and can enroll in Medicare Tennessee. This initial enrollment period starts 3 months before your birth month and ends 3 months after, giving you time to research coverage options and find a plan that matches your needs.
If you chose not to access Medicare when you turned 65 years old because you still had employer insurance, you will qualify for a special enrollment period. This period will begin when you lose employer coverage.
You’ll also qualify for special enrollment for a number of other qualifying life changes.
Tips for enrolling in Medicare in Tennessee
With so many options to choose from, finding the right plan will take some time and research. When choosing from among original Medicare, Medicare Advantage, or Medigap plans, think about each of the following:
- Coverage needs. When comparing plans, stay focused on your coverage needs. Make a list of all the health services you access, such as home healthcare, doctor’s visits, hospital care, or hearing screenings. Then, make a list of additional services you’d like, such as dental coverage or transportation assistance. Look for plans that match your healthcare needs and provide adequate coverage.
- Preferred physician. Are you happy with the care provided by your preferred physician? Medicare Advantage plans in Tennessee work only with network-approved doctors, so call your physician to find out which insurance carriers they accept.
- Medications. One of the biggest out-of-pocket expenses you have is for prescription medications. If you’re planning to enroll in original Medicare, adding Part D could help reduce some of your medication costs. If you’re planning to enroll in an Advantage plan, read about the drug coverage offered and make sure your prescriptions will be covered.
- Star rating. If you haven’t been able to narrow down your search based on the considerations above, you can consult the CMS star ratings. This system ranks Medicare plans on a scale from 1 to 5. Plans that score a 4 or 5 provide quality care and excellent support to insured members.
For more information about Medicare Tennessee, including original Medicare, drug coverage, or Medicare Advantage plans, you can contact the following organizations:
- Medicare. You can contact Medicare directly at 800-633-4227 or online to ask about coverage, specific plans, or assistance with enrolling in Medicare.
- Tennessee SHIP. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) can be reached at 877-801-0044 and provides free, confidential Medicare information and counseling. They can also provide resources on preventing Medicare fraud.
- Tennessee Commission on Aging & Disability. The Commission on Aging & Disability, at 615-741-2056, provides information about Medicare, the SHIP program, stopping elder abuse, and long-term care concerns.
Original Medicare provides basic coverage, while Medicare Advantage plans in Tennessee offer additional coverage to meet your healthcare needs.
Whether you choose original Medicare with supplemental drug coverage or opt for an all-in-one Medicare Advantage plan, there are many coverage options available to explore in Tennessee.