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Ashford Insurance

Affordable Texas Advantage Plans

Medicare Advantage Made Easy

Affordable Texas Advantage Plans

If you are 65 or older, you can qualify for Medicare, the government health insurance program. Others who qualify include individuals with disabilities who receive Social Security and those with end-stage renal disease.

Medicare Part A is hospital insurance and Medicare Part B is medical insurance that covers things like doctor’s visits and lab tests. If you qualify for Medicare, you can also get Medicare Part D, which is prescription drug coverage. Most people pay a monthly premium for Part D.

Beyond Medicare Parts A and B, you can get a Medicare Advantage plan to cover expenses that Original Medicare does not. Medicare Advantage can include vision, hearing, dental, fitness programs, OTC drugs, and even transportation to medical appointments.

Medicare Advantage plans can be an alternative to Original Medicare, which can include gaps in coverage. As you determine the best Medicare coverage for your situation, consider this guide as insight for comparing plans and understanding your benefits as a Texas resident.

What You Should Know About Medicare Advantage Plans in Texas

Mark the deadlines: Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage plans is from October 15 to December 31. If you are enrolling in Medicare for the first time, you have three months before your 65th birthday and three months after to get on the plan.

Look for plans in your county: Medicare Advantage plans in Texas can vary by county. Approved insurance companies offering these plans must fulfill Medicare Part A and Part B (Original Medicare) and offer other benefits, depending on the plan and the insurance company.

How to Compare Medicare Advantage Plans in Texas

With 221 Medicare Advantage Plans available in Texas, you likely have several options in your area. To help you choose the best plan for you, consider what is most important to you before selecting a plan. There are several factors to keep in mind:

Monthly premium: This is how much you pay for coverage monthly, regardless of the care you receive. You may need to pay your plan’s premium in addition to the Medicare Part B premium, although some plans have $0 premiums or help pay for your Part B premium.

Plan network: You may need to use doctors and providers who are within a plan’s network. Before choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan, think about the doctors and facilities (including pharmacies) you prefer to use, then check if the plan offers coverage at those locations. Some plans may provide out-of-network coverage, but this usually comes at a higher cost.

Deductible: Your deductible is the amount you must pay before your insurance plan starts helping cover the costs. Medicare Advantage Plans set their deductibles, and these may change only once per year on January 1.

Copayments and coinsurance: Copayments or coinsurance are how much you pay for each service or doctor’s visit, such as $20 per doctor’s visit. Each Medicare Advantage Plan sets its copayment or coinsurance amount that can differ from what you would pay through Original Medicare.

Out-of-pocket maximum: Each Medicare Advantage Plan sets a yearly limit on the maximum amount you’d be responsible for paying for services covered by Medicare. Once you reach this limit, you won’t have to pay anything for the services you receive covered by Part A and Part B in that year.

Additional coverage: Most Medicare Advantage Plans also provide prescription drug coverage and often include additional benefits that Original Medicare won’t cover, such as vision, dental, and hearing. Plans may provide even more benefits, like discounted gym membership or transportation to doctor’s visits.

Medicare Advantage Plans can also tailor their benefits to the specific needs of chronically ill beneficiaries.

Medicare Advantage plans, often called Medicare Part C, combine Medicare Parts A & B (Original Medicare) into one plan. However, instead of receiving the benefits of Parts A & B through Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans are offered through private insurers that are approved by Medicare.

You can get your Texas Medicare benefits through Original Medicare, or you can choose a Medicare Advantage Plan. With Original Medicare, the government pays for your Medicare benefits when you get them. Medicare Advantage Plans, (the Part C of Medicare) are offered by private companies that have been approved by Medicare. Medicare pays these companies to administer your Medicare benefits.

If you join a Texas Medicare Advantage Plan, the plan will provide all of your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage. They are completely different than a Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policy.

There are several types of Texas Medicare Advantage Plans:

Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans: In most HMOs, you may only go to doctors, other health care providers, or hospitals that are in the plan’s network, except in an emergency or urgent situation. You probably also need to get a referral from your primary care doctor for diagnostic tests or to see other doctors or specialists.

HMO-POS Plans: An HMO-POS plan has features of an HMO plan. One is a defined list of providers, often referred to as a network, that members must use for care and services. The plan may require the member to have a primary physician who coordinates care and there may be prior authorization requirements.

Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans: With a PPO, you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that belong to the plan’s network. You generally pay more if you use doctors, hospitals, and providers outside of the network.

Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) plans: PFFS plans are like Original Medicare in that you can generally go to any doctor, other health care provider, or hospital if they agree to accept the plan’s payment terms. The plan will determine how much it will pay doctors, other health care providers, and hospitals, and how much you must pay when you get care.

Special Needs Plans (SNPs): SNP’s provide specialized and focused health care for specific groups of people, like those who have both Medicare and Medicaid, live in a nursing home, or have certain chronic medical conditions.

Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans: These plans combine a high-deductible health plan with a bank savings account. Medicare will deposit money into the account (usually less than the deductible). You can use the money to pay for your health care services throughout the year. MSA plans do not offer any Medicare drug coverage. If you want drug coverage, you must join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, Part C of Medicare.

To be eligible to enroll in a Texas Medicare Advantage plan you must have both Medicare Parts A and B and live in the plan’s service area. People with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure) generally cannot enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan.

You must continue to pay your Part B premium and generally pay one monthly premium for the services included in a Medicare Advantage Plan. Each Medicare Advantage Plan has different premiums and costs for services, so it’s important to compare plans in your area and understand plan costs and benefits before you join. Some may have a $0 premium.

Texas Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all the services that Original Medicare covers except for hospice care. Original Medicare will cover hospice care even if you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you will always be covered for emergency and urgent care. Medicare Advantage Plans must offer emergency coverage outside of the plan’s service area (but not outside the U.S.). Many Medicare Advantage Plans also offer extra benefits such as dental care, eyeglasses, or wellness programs.

Most Medicare Advantage Plans include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D). In addition to your Part B premium, you usually pay one monthly premium for both the plan’s medical and prescription drug coverage.

Remember, plan benefits can change from year to year. Make sure you understand how a plan works before you join.

Ashford Insurance also offers Medicare Supplement (Medigap) and Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Plans.

Click Here if you need a Dental or Vision Plan.