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Medicare in Colorado

Medicare in Colorado

When it's time to apply for Medicare, many people have questions about the process and what it will pay for. Additionally, whether you qualify for Medicare and when you are eligible can often be confusing. You can eliminate some of the confusion by doing some research ahead of time, though it is sometimes difficult to find the answers to your questions on the government website. To help you understand Medicare and its various parts, we put together this guide to Medicare in Colorado to help you get the answers you need.

How Does Medicare Work in Colorado?

Medicare is a federal program that provides health insurance for individuals who are 65 and older. Medicare also benefits younger individuals with disabilities or end-stage renal disease. In Colorado, over seven million people receive some type of Medicare benefits:

  • Medicare Advantage: 4,355,921 beneficiaries
  • Medicare Part D (drug plans): 3,419,162 beneficiaries

If you receive Social Security benefits or compensation from the Railroad Retirement Board, you are automatically enrolled in Medicare Part A and Medicare Part B when you turn 65. If you do not want Part B, you have to opt-out. You also have additional options.

You can sign up for Part C, which is Medicare Advantage, and Part D, which provides prescription drug coverage. Medicare Advantage is offered through private health insurance companies that combine Parts A and B into a bundle. Sometimes, Medicare Advantage plans include prescriptions, dental, and vision coverage.

Additionally, you can opt to sign up for Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap). These plans supplement Original Medicare. With Original Medicare, there is no cap on out-of-pocket expenses, and they can run quite high. Medigap policies cover those extra costs. If you have access to Medicaid, it will serve as coverage for the expenses Medicare does not pay, though not everyone can qualify for Medicaid.

There is one catch with Medigap, however. In most cases, as you age, your premium increases. Keep track of your medical expenses throughout the years you are on Medicare. If you find you are not using Medigap enough to warrant the increased premiums, you might drop it and consider a Medicare Advantage plan or another supplemental plan.

What Does Medicare Cover in Colorado?

If you paid taxes for a certain amount of time while you were working, you could get Medicare Part A premium-free. Part A and Part B range from $259 to $471 per month, depending on how long you paid into the system via taxes.

Part A covers hospital inpatient expenses and has a $1,484 deductible per benefit period. For days one through 60 of each benefit period, you do not pay a coinsurance fee. For days 61 through 90, the coinsurance is $371, and for days 91 and over, the coinsurance is $742 for each lifetime reserve day. You have 60 lifetime reserve days for your entire lifetime. Once you use them, Medicare does not pay anything for your health care.

If you are under 65 years of age, you can get Part A premium-free if you have been on Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security disability for 24 months, or if you have Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or End-stage renal disease and can meet Medicare's requirements.

The premium for Part B is based on your income. It starts at $148.50 as of 2021. The deductible and coinsurance for Part B are $203. Once you meet the deductible, you still pay 20 percent of any amount Medicare approves for your doctor services, including outpatient therapy and medical equipment.

Who Qualifies for Medicare in Colorado?

You can qualify for Medicare in Colorado if you are a U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident who has lived in the United States for over five years. You also have to be 65 years or older or permanently disabled and receive disability from the Railroad Retirement Board or Social Security.

Additionally, you can qualify for Medicare at any age if you have end-stage renal disease or Lou Gehrig's disease (ALS).

Even if you qualify for your deceased spouse's Social Security benefits earlier, you cannot receive Medicare until your 65th birthday.

Regardless of your situation, you can – and should – apply for Medicare three months prior to your 65th birthday because it takes some time to process the application. Even if you are still working and have insurance, you will receive Medicare Part A automatically.

How Do I Apply for Medicare in Colorado?

Most people are automatically enrolled in Original Medicare. If you are not automatically enrolled for any reason, you can apply from three months prior to your 65th birthday until three months after. If you miss this enrollment period, you can sign up for Medicare between January 1 and March 31.

If you want to apply to Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage, you should sign up at the same time you sign up for Parts A and B or you will have to wait for the next enrollment period.

You can also apply online through your Social Security account. If you do not have one, you will need to create a mySocialSecurity account. You can also call Social Security at (800) 772-1213.

If you worked for the railroad, you could call the Railroad Retirement Board at (877) 772-5772. TTY users who need to call the Railroad Retirement Board should call (312) 751-4701.

Is Medicare Advantage Available in Colorado?

You can choose Medicare Advantage in Colorado; over a third of all people in the country that have Medicare have a Medicare Advantage plan. In 2018, almost 44 percent of those in Colorado that are on Medicare chose a Medicare Advantage plan.

If you want Medicare Advantage, you can go through a private insurer in your service area. All 64 of Colorado's counties have Medicare Advantage plans available as of 2021. Some counties have more plans than others.

You can enroll in Medicare Advantage plans when you first become eligible for Medicare. Additionally, you can enroll during an annual enrollment period if you choose to switch to Medicare Advantage or choose a different plan. Open enrollment for Medicare Advantage is from October 15 through December 7, though coverage does not start until January. 1 of the next year. Finally, if you are already enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and want to switch to a different plan, there is a second enrollment period from January 1 through March 31.

Contact Us to Learn More About Medicare in Colorado

Contact us for more information about Medicare in Colorado or compare Medicare plans and choose the best plan for your needs.

What you should read next

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), sometimes called Medicare Annual Open Enrollment or the Medicare Annual Election Period, runs from October 15 to December 7 each year. This is the time period in which Medicare beneficiaries can make certain changes to their Medicare plans, which we will cover below. Those plan changes would then become effective on January 1. But if Medicare beneficiaries are satisfied with their current Medicare plans, they don't have to take any action during Medicare AEP and there are no penalties involved. Medicare plan details can change annually, though, so it's wise to review your Medicare coverage each year. Overview of Medicare Enrollment Periods It's important to know that the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is different from other Medicare enrollment periods. Here’s a quick overview of the differences: Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): Any changes to Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans Initial Enrollment Period (IEP): Only happens around your 65th birthday, any changes to Medicare or Medicare Advantage plansOpen Enrollment Period (OEP): Applies only to those with Medicare Advantage, who can change Medicare Advantage plans or drop them and return to Original MedicareGeneral Enrollment Period (GEP): Open enrollment period to join Medicare Part A and B.Special Enrollment Period (SEP): Occurs if you have eligible life changes that mean you need to change your plan before the next annual enrollment period.Be sure to visit our guide to different enrollment periods to learn more.What’s the Difference Between Medicare AEP and the Medicare General Enrollment Period?The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is sometimes confused with the Medicare General Enrollment period, which is January 1 to March 31 each year. It’s important to understand the differences between the two enrollment periods.The Medicare General Enrollment Period is for Medicare beneficiaries who didn’t sign up for Medicare Part A) or Part B when they first became eligible and aren’t eligible for a Medicare Part B special enrollment period. The AEP, however, is for beneficiaries who are already enrolled in Medicare and want to change their Medicare coverage.What Changes Can I Make During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?The first thing to know is that you cannot use the Medicare Annual Election Period to enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B for the first time.If you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you’d like to change your Medicare coverage, here are some things you can do during the Medicare AEP:Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.Disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare.Change from one prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D) to another.Enroll in a prescription drug plan.Cancel your prescription drug coverage.5 Tips to Prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment PeriodThere are many Medicare insurance carriers and plan options, but there are several steps you can take to be a savvy shopper and choose the right plan for your unique needs.1. Mark Your CalendarThis may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s worth mentioning: Mark your calendar for October 15 through December 7 if you’d like to make a change to your Medicare plan.You might even set aside a few hours to research and compare Medicare Advantage plans and Prescription Drug plans ahead of October 15. These plans announce their benefits for the next year starting on October 1.Writing down these Medicare AEP dates and to-dos will help you to commit to these priorities.2. Review Your Medicare Annual Notice of ChangeYou’ll receive lots of information over the next month or so prior to and during AEP, so if you’re currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan, the Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) is one piece of mail you’ll want to read.Your Medicare plan will mail your Annual Notice of Change letter to you by September 30. The ANOC letter will inform you of most changes to your Medicare health plan, including coverage and benefits that will take effect on January 1, 2022.Each year, your Medicare health plan sets the amounts it will charge you for premiums, deductibles and other services. Medicare doesn’t set these rates - but your insurance company does. With this in mind, the amounts you pay could change each year.While evaluating your current Medicare plan, you may want to ask yourself questions like:Did the plan cover the services I needed?Did I use out-of-network providers?Did I spend more out of pocket than I originally anticipated?Has something changed with my health (new diagnosis, new prescriptions, etc.)?The ANOC will also provide a side-by-side comparison of your current plan and next year’s plan benefits, costs and other changes (if any).Moral of the story: Don’t toss this piece of mail aside. Always review your ANOC to ensure your plan continues to meet your needs on an annual basis. And if you don’t receive your ANOC by September 30, contact your Medicare insurance company.3. Make a List of What’s Important to Your HealthKeeping a list of what’s important to your health is an invaluable way to prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.Start by writing down all of your doctors, preferred health care facilities and hospitals, and prescription drugs, if you take any.We also recommend making a list of value-added benefits that may fit your health, lifestyle and budget.For example, you may be someone who likes to keep active and have social interaction. So a fitness program like SilverSneakers, which gives you access to a network of gyms and other programs, might be a good fit for you. A Medicare Advantage plan may provide these types of fitness or wellness programs.Another thing to consider is whether or not you have an elective surgery planned for 2022. If so, you’ll want to check your hospital-specific benefits under your current Medicare Advantage plan.4. Check Your Plan’s Drug FormularyYour Medicare plan’s drug formulary will not be included in your Annual Notice of Change, so be sure you call your insurance customer service representative to see if your prescription drugs will be covered for the 2022 plan year.If your prescription drugs aren’t covered, it’s wise to use the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period to find a plan that does cover them.5. Talk To Your DoctorAnother “Medicare must-do” is to make sure all of your doctors and healthcare facilities will remain in network with your current Medicare plan. If they aren’t, you may want to take advantage of the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period.So be sure to ask your doctor if he or she plans on changing health plan affiliations over the next year.What Changes Can I Make During the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period?The first thing to know is that you cannot use the Medicare Annual Election Period to enroll in Medicare Part A or Part B for the first time.But if you’re enrolled in Medicare Part A and Part B and you’d like to change your Medicare coverage, here are some things you can do during the Medicare Annual Election Period:Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.Change from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.Disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan and go back to Original Medicare.Change from one prescription drug plan (Medicare Part D) to another.Enroll in a prescription drug plan.Cancel your prescription drug coverage.What Are The Benefits of a Medicare Advantage Plan?Understanding your Medicare plan options - starting with a Medicare Advantage plan - is a smart first step to take because you can switch, enroll into or dis-enroll from Medicare Advantage plans during AEP.Medicare Advantage plans, otherwise known as “Medicare Part C” or “MA Plans,” bundle Original Medicare (Parts A and B) services into one plan. While Original Medicare offers you a number of benefits, it may not cover health and medical services you might need.One major change happening for the 2021 plan year is that people with End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD), also known as kidney failure, will now have the option to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that more than 80,000 people living with ESRD will enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan by 2026 - a significant increase of 63%.What Are Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans?Medicare beneficiaries also have access to Medicare Advantage plans designed for unique needs. These are called Special Needs Plans (SNPs). Like other types of Medicare Advantage plans, SNPs vary based on location.You may be able to switch to a Special Needs Plan during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period if one of these situations apply:You’ve been diagnosed with a serious medical condition by a doctor. There are SNPs for certain chronic conditions, such as kidney and heart failure, diabetes and dementia. Services are tailored to the specific condition the plan covers.You need or have received skilled nursing care for at least 90 days at your home or at an institution, such as a nursing home or long-term care facility.You qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. Medicaid eligibility is based on your income and assets. If you qualify, Medicaid will pay most of the costs for your Medicare Special Needs Plan.Special Needs Plans include all the same benefits as regular Medicare Advantage plans, plus some expanded coverage.For example, all Special Needs Plans must include prescription drug coverage, which is usually tailored to the specific condition the plan covers. Although most regular Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drugs, some do not.Some SNPs also provide a care coordinator to help you stay on track with your doctor appointments and treatment plan.Changes in Income Due to Coronavirus (Covid19)?The coronavirus crisis has affected the financial well-being of many Americans, including those on Medicare. If you’ve experienced a decrease to your income or assets, the Medicare AEP 2020 season is a great time to switch to a more affordable plan.If you have limited income, you might qualify for extra savings on Medicare costs through these programs:Medicare Savings Programs. These programs help pay for some of your Medicare Part A and Part B out-of-pocket costs, such as copays, deductibles and premiums. Most programs are for Medicare beneficiaries who also qualify for Medicaid. And as mentioned, Medicaid covers the majority of your costs when you join a Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plan. You can check if you qualify through your local Medicaid office.Medicare Extra Help. Extra Help reduces your Medicare prescription drug plan costs. You should contact Social Security to check your eligibility for Extra Help if you have an existing Medicare drug plan or you join one during AEP.How To Enroll During the Medicare Annual Enrollment PeriodTo enroll in an eligible plan during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, you can visit our comparison tool. Or, you call (855) 651-5094 to talk to a licensed insurance agent to get help enrolling in Medicare.Whatever option you choose, be sure to have 3 items handy before you enroll in a plan or make changes to your current plan during AEP:Your Medicare cardYour list of doctors, prescriptions and what is important to your healthPen and paper to take notesHow To Find A Medicare Advantage or Prescription Drug Plan During AEPYou don’t have to go it alone when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan or Prescription Drug Plan. We’re here to help you navigate the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period through a number of ways, including:Our licensed agents: 1-800-620-4519Our Medicare plan comparison toolOur online Medicare resourcesView Our 2022 Medicare Annual Enrollment GuideThe experts at TogetherHealth have developed a 2022 AEP Readiness Guide to help you prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period so you can make an informed choice for your healthcare needs next year.
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As we grow older, we often need help getting around. This might mean getting a cane, a walker, or another walking aid. One of the concerns seniors have is how they can afford these devices. If you use Medicare as your primary insurance coverage, you might have questions like “Does Medicare cover walkers?” or “Does Medicare pay for walking aids?” This guide is designed to answer the most common questions about Medicare and walking aids. Does Medicare Pay for Upright Walkers? Does Medicare pay for walkers for seniors? It’s a common question, and it depends on which Medicare plan you have. Original Medicare will cover walkers that are medically necessary and prescribed by your doctor. This is covered under Medicare Part B as durable medical equipment. In order to receive coverage, your medical equipment provider must accept Medicare as payment. They also need to have a Medicare supplier number. You will be responsible for your Part B deductible if it hasn’t already been paid, and then you’ll pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount for the walker. Medicare will cover the rest. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you will also receive coverage for a medically-necessary walker. All Advantage plans must cover at least as much as Original Medicare. You will probably need to choose a medical equipment provider within the insurer’s network. Check your plan for details. Does Medicare Pay for a Walking Boot?Crutches and walking boots are also covered by Medicare when they are medically necessary. The good news is that you can often rent these devices instead of buying them, which saves you money. With Original Medicare, you can expect to pay 20% of the Medicare-approved cost after your deductible is covered. Medicare will pay the other 80%. When you rent an item, the provider is responsible for maintaining it, so contact them if you have any problems. Learn more about Medicare costs, deductibles, and premiums in 2022.A Medicare Advantage plan will also cover a medically necessary boot or crutches. You may have a different copayment amount, however, so be sure you contact your plan for details.Does Medicare Pay for Walking Canes?Walking canes that are prescribed by a doctor for a mobility impairment are covered by Medicare. If you buy a cane and then it needs to be repaired, you can generally get the repairs covered by Medicare as well.Keep in mind that the normal durable medical equipment (DME) rules apply: the cane needs to be medically necessary, prescribed by a doctor, and provided by a medical equipment supplier that accepts Medicare and has a Medicare supplier number.One notable exception is that Original Medicare does not cover white canes for the blind. They define these canes as a self-help device rather than one that treats an illness or injury. If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have additional coverage options for canes. You’ll need to choose an equipment provider that’s in the insurance network. Be sure to contact your insurer to get the details you need. Learn More About Medicare and WalkersStill have questions about Medicare coverage for walkers or other devices? It can be helpful to talk to a licensed agent about your insurance coverage, and we’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about your Medicare coverage and compare available options! 
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