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The Three Types Of Medicare Special Needs Plans

Older Woman in Wheel Chair

Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans are only for those who meet specific qualifications

There are many people on Medicare for which a Medicare supplement or traditional Medicare Advantage plan would not be appropriate.

Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans have benefits tailored to people with a specific set of circumstances. If your situation does not meet the defined set of circumstances you cannot enroll in a Special Needs Plan.

A predominant feature of these types of plans is there focus on a managed care model. Additionally, plans typically include Part D coverage and do not normally have a monthly premium.

The information that follows gives an overview of the three types of Special Needs Plans.

Types of Special Needs Plans

Types of Medicare Special Needs health plans include:

  • Health plan for people with limited incomes. These plans are for people that are considered to be dual eligible. Dual eligibility means that the person is enrolled in both Medicare and qualifies and is enrolled in their State’s Medicaid program. Medicaid offers additional assistance to people who qualify due to having a low income as defined by their State of residency. Plan’s typically offer services with extremely low or no co-pays for services. Part D prescription drug coverage is included as are extra benefits beyond what original Medicare offers. Extras may include transportation for appointments with medical providers and trips to the pharmacy.
  • Health plan for people with specific long term illnesses. This type of plan is considered to be a chronic illness Special Needs Plan. It is designed to meet the needs of those with specific enrollment criteria, as defined by their having a qualifying chronic illness. Plans may include; cardiovascular disorders, chronic heart failure, diabetes and other qualifying disorders. These plans typically offer a higher level of coordinated care than other Medicare Advantage Plans. Part D is generally included as are extra benefits designed with the member’s condition in mind. The treating physician will generally have to verify the condition indicated on the application, as the qualifying condition for enrollment, with the plan provider.
  • Health plan for people in nursing homes. The key to eligibility for this plan is residency in a nursing home. The residence must be a qualified nursing home. This is generally for people permanently residing in a nursing home, and not receiving temporary respite care. Services are highly coordinated and may include the services of a nurse practitioner. Part D is included, as are additional benefits, such as transportation. These plans have little or no co-pays for services, as many that are qualified are also dual eligible qualified.

Medicare Plans for People with Medicare Disability

Enrolling in a Medicare Special Needs Plan

Enrolling in a Special Needs Plan is different than enrolling in a non-special needs Medicare Advantage Plan. When enrolling in Medicare Special Needs Plans, individuals are not limited by the standard enrollment periods. People who qualify for one of these plans are able to enroll at any time. Qualifying for a plan qualifies them for a special enrollment period by default.

If you qualify for one of these types of Medicare Special Needs Plans, you should consider the benefits of enrolling in one. Your costs may be lower and your benefits enhanced as a member of the plan for which you qualify.


  1. Jean Liberty-Hendrix

    When the person that is on disability is married or not, when applying for ahcccs/medicaid you take in account the gross income, that is it. this is part of what is wrong with these programs,what should also be taken into consideration is their mortgage/rent,gas,electric,water etc & car pymt if they one & medical bills. I agree credit card bills should not be taken into consideration. This would help stop a lot of these people who know how to work the system & they should have to bring in 6 months of bank statments. The government could really help reduce the unemployment by hiring enough people to ensure that

  2. Jean, I can’t agree with your reasoning. For example, if you drive a Lexus with a $700 per month payment and I drive a beater that is paid off you should have your car payment taken into account? The government is not your keeper you need to take personal responsibility also.

  3. I agree with David only the essentials of living should be taken under consideration. Like rent,most utilities, medications and premiums for life ins. There might be a few more but nothing that is non-essential. Allowances should be made for food is your not on food stamps or such. I don’t quilify for duel inrollment here in NC but I do have family member that do and I dont believe that car’s is one of the deductibles. thanks for reading.. Terri

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