There have been several questions and comments as to which is a better choice: AARP MedicareComplete or Medicare. It’s important to look at the facts and clear up any misconceptions that may exist on this topic.
The choice between original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan is just one of many possible choice combinations that can be made.
We could just as easily ask which is better: a Medigap policy or a Medicare Advantage plan or any other combination of plan choices. Following are some of the differences between MedicareComplete and original Medicare.
Choosing to insure yourself with original Medicare by itself can be a risky business. Original Medicare was never intended to cover 100% of expenses associated with your health care.
Some things you need to know about Medicare
- Some services such as routine dental, vision and hearing are not covered.
- You will be required to pay a deductibles and co-payments.
- You must pay premiums for your Part B coverage.
- Medicare Part D requires a separate premium.
- There is not an annual maximum out-of-pocket amount.
Medicare is considered a fee-for-service plan and you are able to choose any provider that accepts Medicare assignment. This means that if you require a specialist in another State you have the freedom to use them as long as they accept Medicare assignment. There are no network restrictions.
MedicareComplete is a Medicare Advantage plan offered by United Healthcare. More people are enrolled in an Advantage plan offered by United Healthcare than any other insurance company. AARP MedicareComplete is their most popular offering.
The plan is not owned or operated by AARP. It merely carries the AARP brand. ARRP is a not for profit organization with a focus on lobbying efforts and recommending products that they feel will offer value to their senior membership.
AARP MedicareComplete is not a Medicare supplement and shouldn’t be confused with AARP Medigap branded products also offered by United Healthcare. Purchasing a AARP Medigap policy requires AARP membership while joining an AARP branded Advantage plan does not.
Some things you need to know about AARP MedicareComplete
- As an Advantage plan it is offered County-by-County and may not be available everywhere.
- Plan benefits and premiums can vary County-to-County.
- Medicare Complete may be available as a PPO, HMO or HMO-POS plan.
- It may or may not include Part D coverage.
- Plans are good for one calendar year and must be renewed (if available) for the following year.
- You must adhere to strict enrollment period requirements.
- Extra benefits like limited dental, vision and hearing are often included.
- Premiums are sometimes required but many plans are offered with a $0 premium.
- Plans generally require cost-sharing in the form of deductibles, co-payments and coinsurance.
The type of plan available will determine if you can seek services out-of-network. While a PPO or HMO-POS plan offers some flexibility in exchange for increased cost sharing expenses, a HMO does not. If you are enrolled in a HMO plan and would like to see a out-of-network specialist it will not be allowed.
Misconceptions about AARP MedicareComplete
- Enrolling in Medicare Complete does not mean you are no longer in Medicare. You must have Medicare Part A and Part B to qualify. You must also continue to pay your Part B premiums.
- Medicare complete is not considered a Medicare supplement. It is merely another way to receive your Medicare benefits.
- Plans are not free. It’s possible that you may not have a monthly premium but will incur costs associated with usage as well as the continued payment of your Part B premium.
Your best choice
Whether one plan will be better than the other is determined by your individual circumstances. Review the Medicare And You Handbook to get specific information about original Medicare and review the available Medicare Complete plan to compare benefits side by side.
If you are concerned about network limitations you may want to explore Medicare plus a Medicare supplement as this will give you greater coverage and allow the freedom to choose any provider that accepts Medicare assignment. Medicare supplement Plan F is the most comprehensive plan.
If you are concerned that Medicare does not protect you with an annual maximum out-of-pocket expense, you may want to explore a Medicare Advantage plan as this is included with all plans. In addition a Medicare Advantage plan may be more desirable if you are looking for some extra benefits not included in original Medicare.
The good news is that you can switch between the plans during enrollment periods if you are not happy with either AARP MedicareComplete or Medicare.