An AARP Medicare plan is perfect when Original Medicare doesn’t provide the healthcare coverage you need. Original Medicare is a federal health insurance program that includes Medicare Part A coverage (hospital) and Medicare Part B coverage (medical insurance). Most people are eligible to sign up for Medicare through Social Security at age 65, but many choose to get their coverage through a private insurance company. In this article we will cover the following sections:
- AARP Medicare Advantage Plans
- AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans
- AARP Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans
- How to Enroll in an AARP Medicare Plan?
AARP’s mission is to “empower people to choose how they live as they age,” and the company has provided insurance solutions and options for more than 50 years. AARP Medicare plans offered through UnitedHealthcare are an alternative to Original Medicare because they include additional coverage to assist with out-of-pocket expenses.
AARP Medicare Advantage plans are also referred to as Medicare Part C. These plans combine the benefits of Medicare Part A and Part B, but also include benefits not covered under the plan, such as Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.
You’ll still have Original Medicare when you sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan through AARP. The difference is that your Part A and Part B coverage will come from your Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare Advantage is an option when you need coverage for prescription drugs and more. There’s peace of mind in knowing that you’re able to meet your healthcare needs without spending too much of your hard-earned cash.
Specific Medicare Advantage plan benefits include:
Part A (hospital)
AARP’s Medicare Advantage Part A coverage includes hospital stays, limited home health care, and nursing care services. A key difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Part A is that the latter doesn’t include hospice care. You’ll receive this care under Original Medicare, even after you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage program.
Hospital expenses covered under Medicare Advantage Part A:
- acute care
- critical care
- rehabilitation facilities
- mental health care
- semi-private rooms
- nursing services
This plan only covers the cost of a private room when deemed medically necessary. Home healthcare services are also covered when deemed medically necessary. Home services include private nursing care, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and part-time home health aide.
Part B (medical insurance)
AARP’s Medicare Advantage Part B is medical insurance. This covers the cost of preventative services, doctor appointments (diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions), labs, medical tests, ambulance service, and mental health services. You’ll pay a monthly premium for Part B.
Part D (prescription drug coverage)
Enrollment in an AARP Medicare Advantage plan may include prescription drug coverage. This extra benefit can significantly lower your out-of-pocket expenses for medication. You’ll pay either a fixed copay or a percentage of the prescription cost, depending on the type of drug.
Once you’re enrolled in an AARP Medicare Advantage plan, other benefits include:
- $0 copay for certain doctor visits
- $0 copay for certain prescription drugs
- free gym membership
- Medicare customer support (online or telephone)
- free annual dental and vision examinations
The different types of AARP Medicare Advantage plans include:
- Health maintenance organization (HMO). Under this plan you’re required to visit specific doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers within a certain network. The plan does not cover care received from outside providers. This plan also requires a visit to your primary doctor before visits with a specialist. You must also use in-network urgent care facilities.
- Preferred provider organization (PPO). This plan gives you the flexibility to choose your own providers. Therefore, you’re able to use doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare services within or outside the plan’s network. If you choose a healthcare provider outside the network, though, you will pay more for services.
- Private fee-for-service plans. You can receive care from any hospital or doctor that accepts AARP’s Medicare Advantage plan, although you’ll pay less when selecting a healthcare provider within network. You’re not required to choose a primary doctor.
- Special needs plans. These plans are designed specifically for people with certain diseases. Your benefits and providers are tailored to meet your specific healthcare needs.
- Medical savings account. This plan combines a high-deductible health plan and a savings account. Medicare places funds in your medical savings account, and throughout the year you can withdraw money from this account to cover your healthcare costs.
Learn how to enroll in an AARP Medicare Advantage plan.
If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare, keep in mind that the plan only covers about 80 percent of healthcare costs. You’ll have to pay the difference out-of-pocket, so consider enrolling in an AARP Medicare Supplement insurance plan.
This plan is designed to pay some of the costs not covered by Original Medicare. These plans are also called Medigap and include 10 standardized options: Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan F, Plan G, Plan K, Plan L, Plan N.
Each plan has the same basic benefits with varying levels of coverage, but typically cover 50% to 100% of out-of-pocket costs that Original Medicare doesn’t. For example, all plans cover 100% of Part A coinsurance and hospital costs. Yet depending on the plan, coverage for Part B coinsurance or copayments might range from 50% to 100%.
Basic features of an AARP Medicare Supplement plan include:
- See any doctor or hospital that accepts Medicare patients
- You don’t need a referral to see a specialist
- Coverage is available anywhere within the United States
- You’re guaranteed coverage for life
Learn how to enroll in an AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance plan.
Many AARP Medicare Advantage plans already include Part D coverage. If you’re enrolled in Original Medicare—which doesn’t include Part D—you can purchase a stand-alone AARP Medicare Part D prescription drug plan through UnitedHealthcare, too.
It works alongside your Original Medicare and helps cover the cost of most outpatient generic and brand prescription medications. Prescription drug coverage varies from plan-to-plan.
Learn how to enroll in an AARP Medicare Part D prescription drug plan.
AARP has provided insurance solutions for more than 50 years and offers several Medicare options based on your needs.
There are specific times when you can enroll in an AARP Medicare Advantage plan, an AARP Medicare Part D stand-alone plan, and an AARP Medicare Supplement Insurance plan.
If you’re at least 65 and enrolled in Original Medicare, the initial enrollment period for a Medicare Advantage plan and a Medicare Part D plan begins three months before your 65th birthday, and ends three months after your 65th birthday.
You can also sign up for a plan, make changes to your plan, or switch to a different plan during fall annual enrollment. This period is between October 15 and December 7. Coverage begins on January 1.
To be eligible for a Medicare Supplement insurance plan, you must be 65 and enrolled in Original Medicare. You only have a six-month open enrollment window that begins the month you turn 65.
There are no health questions during open enrollment, so having a pre-existing condition doesn’t prevent signing up for a plan.
You can apply for AARP’s Medicare Supplement insurance after the open enrollment period, but your enrollment will be subject to medical underwriting. You could be denied coverage based on your health.
Healthcare costs can skyrocket with age, so it’s important to understand your Medicare options and receive adequate coverage based on your health. While Original Medicare is an option for older adults, it isn’t enough coverage for some.
An AARP Medicare plan can provide prescription drug coverage, other benefits, and cover some of your out-of-pocket costs for copays, deductibles, and coinsurance.
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