If you are turning 65 years old soon, now is the time to look into your options for a Medicare health insurance plan. There are scores of health insurance companies offering Arizona Medicare plans. Some companies offer Advantage plans, some offer Medigap Supplement plans, and some offer both. Lehrman Group represents all the better-known carriers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Cigna, United HealthCare/AARP, Humana and Mutual of Omaha.

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To get a Medigap Supplement plan, you must enroll for Medicare Parts A and B – this can usually be done online in just a few minutes of your time at this US governmental web site or by visiting a Social Security office near you in person. You may usually do this if you are within three months of turning age 65. After you receive your ID card from Medicare, you may purchase a Medigap plan from the insurance company of your choice, as long as that insurance company is licensed to sell Medigap and/or Advantage plans by the State of Arizona Insurance Commissioner. You would pay a monthly premium fee to the insurance company each month in addition to what you’d pay to the US Government for Part B – there is usually no cost to you for Part A. Currently, Part B usually costs most people just about $120 each month and is collected by the government.

Part A (which is hospital insurance provided by the government) covers hospital care, skilled nursing facility care, some nursing home care, hospice and home health services, as long as they are Medicare-approved expenses. Part B (which is medical insurance provided by the government) covers doctor fees — as long as the expenses are approved by Medicare. After you pay a deductible, Medicare pays its share of the Medicare-approved amounts (meaning that they will pay what they will pay and no more, and they will only pay for Medicare-approved expenses), and then you pay the rest. Bear in mind that Medicare does not pay ALL of your bills, making a Medigap plan or an Advantage plan very important to you. The Medigap Supplement plans and Advantage are sold by private insurance companies and are in addition to the cost of your Part B premium.

With most all Advantage plans, you are required to use the plan’s network of doctors, hospitals and other providers. The Advantage plans are HMOs, which means you must select a primary practice doctor when you enroll for a plan, and you usually have to get a referral from that doctor if you want to see any other providers.

Medigap Supplement plans are not HMO plans — you may visit any provider that accepts Medicare patients. You don’t have to select a primary practice doctor, and you do not need referrals to see providers.

Medigap Supplement plans usually cost a bit more than the Advantage plans, but if you want to have access to just about every medical provider nationwide without needing permission and can afford the monthly cost difference, you’d probably want to select a Medigap Supplement plan. Most Advantage plans cost between $0 and $160 per month here in Arizona, and most Medigap Supplement plans cost between $65 and $175 per month.

See this web site from Medicare for a lot of useful information about your Medicare health insurance options. You can sign up for Medicare while at the site. Then call us from anywhere in Arizona at (800) 600-9663, extension 10, and we can give you information on all of the various insurance company plans available to you and enroll you into the plan of your choice.

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