Oklahoma is known as the “Sooner State,” a name bestowed upon the territory after some settlers rushed in to claim their stake as soon as the signal was given. And though the initial claims were made over a century ago, Oklahoma residents can still learn much from the Sooners, especially when it comes to registering for Medicare and supplemental Medicare policies. If you’re an Oklahoma resident nearing age 65, read on to learn what your options are and why early registration can save you time and money.
If you’re nearing the age of 65, you’re likely aware that you can register for Medicare 6 months before your birthday until 6 months afterwards. At this time you can also register for a supplemental plan such as Medigap or Medicare Advantage. If you’ve got native Oklahoma blood, your Sooner instincts may kick in and encourage you to choose a supplemental policy from the get-go. And they may be right. While Medigap and Medicare Advantage policies both have a guaranteed acceptance (with very few exceptions), the benefits of enrolling with the initial Medicare registration are undeniable. For starters, Medicare recipients who register for Medigap or Medicare Advantage in their personal open enrollment period will not be subject to any waiting periods for service, and will be able to enjoy the lowest rates possible. Those who decide to supplement their Medicare later may be forced to wait for coverage if they have a recently-diagnosed preexisting condition, and they may be subject to higher premiums.
Likewise, while it’s quite straightforward to opt for a supplemental plan when registering for Medicare the first time, those who choose to register for Medigap or Medicare Advantage plans later on will be forced to wait until the nationwide open enrollment period. In 2012 this period is from October 15 through December 7, though the open enrollment period is subject to change annually. Applications made during this time will come into effect on January 1, 2013. In other words, Oklahoma residents who decide they want a Medicare supplement early in the year will be forced to wait as long as 11 months to get the coverage they want. Be sure to start comparing plans early so you don’t have to wait to get your coverage implemented. Fill out the zip code form to compare plans and rates.
The differences between Medigap and Medicare Advantage are numerous and it’s important to understand them carefully in order to choose the best plan for your specific needs. Oklahoma residents looking for coverage for a wider network of physicians or for coverage of services not covered by Medicare parts A and B (such as dental care and prescription drug coverage) should consider a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans vary from provider to provider, both in terms of price and in terms of the services offered.
The coverage provided by Medigap, on the other hand, is identical from provider to provider, though prices may vary. Medigap policies cover only expenses not covered by Medicare such as copays and deductibles, and does not cover supplemental services or service providers. Medigap is available in versions A through L, each one corresponding to a specific Medicare part A-L. Oklahoma residents can choose how much supplemental coverage they want and choose a plan accordingly.
According to a Kaiser Family Foundation report from 2011, 131,830 Oklahoma residents enjoyed Medigap coverage, while only 88,114 registered for Medicare Advantage. Still, Oklahoma’s Medicare Advantage plans saw an increased enrollment by 4% as compared to 2010, and analysts expect the number to continue to rise in the future.
No matter which form of Medicare supplement you choose, carefully consider the benefits of registering early and look for the best possible price for a plan that will meet your needs both now and in the future. Fill out the zip code form now to compare rates and plans instantly.
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