It’s no secret that Tuscon, Arizona, is a popular place to live, especially for retired individuals. Tucson boasts lower independent living costs, lots of outdoor activities, and maybe most importantly, no tax on Social Security benefits. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a little over 20% of Tuscon’s population is eligible for Medicare. Whether you’re a snowbird who heads to Tuscon for the winter or you live there year-round, you’ll want to understand your Medicare options.
Tucson is located in Pima County, which has a variety of Medicare plans available to those who are eligible. In this article, we’ll take a look at the two options you have to supplement your benefits under Original Medicare (Parts A and B), as well as the insurance companies that offer Part D prescription drug plans.
A Medicare Supplement, also known as a Medigap plan, is one of two ways Medicare beneficiaries can “supplement” their benefits under Original Medicare. The reason almost all beneficiaries choose to add either a Medigap plan or a Medicare Advantage plan (which we’ll discuss next) is that there are many out-of-pocket costs associated with Parts A and B. You’ll have deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance costs. Plus, there is no limit on your financial responsibility. If you develop a serious health condition, medical bills could even push you into bankruptcy.
If you enroll in a Medigap plan, it will be your secondary form of insurance, while Original Medicare remains your primary. How much of the cost your Medigap plan picks up depends on which plan you choose to enroll in. For example, Medigap Plan G is one of the most popular options in Pima County. It will pick up every cost that remains after Original Medicare pays except for the Part B deductible, which is $233 this year (2022). Other popular Medicare Supplements include Plans F and N. (Plan F enrollment is limited to those who turned 65 prior to 2020.)
Many snowbirds in Tuscon (and the rest of Arizona) choose to enroll in a Medicare Supplement instead of a Medicare Advantage plan. The reason is that Medigap plans are extremely mobile. No matter which carrier you purchase your plan from, it will be accepted all over the country, so long as the provider accepts Medicare. You can find a full list of Medicare providers in Tuscon by searching Medicare.gov.
Medicare Advantage is the other option beneficiaries have to reduce their medical costs. These plans vary from one county to the next, and some counties have very few options. Fortunately, Pima County has 43 different Medicare Advantage plans to choose from!
Medicare Advantage, also called Medicare Part C, has become increasingly popular in recent years. They have lower premiums than Medicare Supplement plans and include many extra benefits built into the policies. The average cost of a Medicare Advantage plan in Pima County is approximately $46 per month.
The downside is that these plans may not be great for those who travel. They utilize provider networks, and some plans do not include any coverage for non-contracted providers. If you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you need to be sure you understand the network and which doctors participate with your plan. While this can seem cumbersome, you’ll have help from either your Medicare advisor or the insurance company itself to make sure you find a provider who accepts your plan.
There are many insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage plans in Pima County. They include:
Alignment Health Plan
Remember, every plan is different, so be sure to compare their costs and benefits before choosing your plan.
If you enroll in either a Medicare Supplement plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that does not include prescription drug coverage, you need to enroll in a stand-alone Part D plan. Failure to do so will result in penalties later, so be sure to enroll as soon as you are eligible. Yes, even if you’re not currently taking prescription medications!
The Part D plan you choose will depend on your current medications. You’ll want to make sure the plan offers coverage for those medications, and then you’ll want to compare out-of-pocket costs and premiums.
Insurance companies that offer Part D plans in Pima County include:
Clear Spring Health
Mutual of Omaha
If this seems overwhelming, you’re not alone! Transitioning into the Medicare program is a daunting task, but it’s not one that you have to do alone. Our advisors at Local Medicare Specialists are experts in the Medicare industry and in your specific area. We can help you make sense of all your choices and guide you into the plan that fits your needs and budgets. Our services are free, so there’s no reason not to ask for help! Call us today and speak with one of our licensed insurance agents.
Schedule a FREE Medicare consultation with an agent in your neighborhood.