Once you reach the age of 65, the odds are good that your medical needs will begin to increase. You may need to visit the doctor more often, receive more outpatient care, and you may even require an occasional hospital visit. However, for most people on a fixed or retired income, meeting these medical needs can be financially stressful. For this reason, the federal Medicare program exists. The base of the program, Parts A and B, cover the increasing need for doctor’s visits and hospital stays for elderly individuals who enroll in the program.

Medicare Plans in Kansas

The program is designed to keep costs down while covering most of what retirement age individuals require to maintain good health. Part B, which covers things like doctor office visits and outpatient treatment, has a fixed monthly premium, as well as a yearly deductible for all enrollees. Part A might be free if you have a 10-year employment history (a total of 40 quarters in all). However, if your cumulative work history amounts to less than that, you may have to pay additional fees for Medicare Part A and its associated hospital visit coverage.

Once you qualify for Medicare, you will have a big decision to make: do you accept Part A benefits only, or do you accept and pay for Parts A and B together? Sometimes, Part B coverage is optional. This includes things like doctor visits, outpatient procedures, and certain medical supplies. Part A coverage, on the other hand, is reserved for hospital treatments and end-of-life care.

Beyond Medicare Parts A & B, your ability to reject Part B benefits may be compromised depending on what other types of coverage you need. People who need many different types of coverage sometimes choose a Medicare Advantage (Part C) plan instead. These plans, however, take away the optional nature of Part B. You will receive those benefits no matter what. You will also have to buy Part B coverage if you instead decide to stay with Original Medicare but want to purchase Part D prescription coverage.

Medicare Part A (Hospital Coverage)

  • Inpatient care in hospitals
  • Skilled nursing facility care
  • Hospice care
  • Home health care
Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance)

  • Services from doctors and health providers
  • Outpatient care
  • Home health care
  • Durable medical equipment
  • Some preventive services
Medicare Part C (Medicare Advantage)

  • Includes all benefits and services covered under Part A and Part B
  • Usually includes Medicare prescription drug coverage (Part D) as part of the plan
  • Offered by Medicare-approved private insurance companies
  • May include extra benefits and services for an extra cost
Medicare Part D (Drug Coverage)

  • Helps cover the cost of prescription drugs
  • Run by Medicare-approved private insurance companies
  • May help lower your prescription drug costs and help protect against higher costs in the future

What Type of Medicare do Kansas Residents Have?

There are 448,215 Kansas citizens 65 or older currently taking advantage of the Medicare Program. A modest 13% of those (or 58,267 individuals) have effectively replaced their Original Medicare (Parts A and B) with a Medicare Advantage policy. An additional 44% (or 196,048 beneficiaries) have chosen to supplement their Medicare with a Medigap policy (we’ll talk more about those later). Finally, the remaining 43% (192,732 people) have either decided to hold off on supplementing their Medicare coverage, or have some other form of supplement policy, perhaps through an employer.

Why Should Kansas Residents Supplement Medicare?

Well, the issue goes beyond just Kansas. Anyone age 65 or older who has successfully enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B should seriously consider supplementing their Medicare coverage. As comprehensive as the plan tries to be, it doesn’t quite cover everything. And the things it doesn’t cover can cause you some serious financial trouble if you aren’t prepared to pay for:

Medicare Part A Costs in 2022 Medicare Part B Costs in 2022
  • Part A is premium-free for most
  • Part A deductible is $1,556 per benefit period
  • Inpatient hospital stay days 61-90 is $389
  • The standard Part B premium is $170.10
  • The annual deductible for Part B is $233
  • Medicare pays 80%, you pay 20% out-of-pocket

If you are relatively new to the Medicare program and are already in fairly good health, you may not think that a supplement policy is necessary. That may be true for now, but you can’t predict what sort of health problems may develop later on down the road. Most prefer to put such worries at ease with either a Medicare Advantage plan, or a Medigap policy. We’ll go into the pros and cons of each plan now.

The rolling prairies of Kansas make this state a beautiful place to live, even in the face of rising healthcare costs. Senior citizens are especially vulnerable to these rate hikes because they no longer have a steady income, but their health care needs are constantly increasing. Some companies have stepped in to try and help seniors manage their health care costs during their retirement years. These companies sell different forms of Medicare supplement insurance to protect you from coverage gaps.

Yes, there are many gaps in traditional Medicare coverage which can become very expensive if you are not careful. There are gaps in both Part A, and Part B of Original Medicare. Extended hospital stays, blood transfusions, and mounting coinsurance payments are just a small part of those gaps. But they can take a large chunk out of your savings if you do not protect yourself against them.

Thankfully, these Medicare supplement plans are an affordable solution to taking on these massive expenses on your own. You can purchase a policy which protects you from the gaps in coverage alone, or you can go for something more complex which offers you additional coverages. Depending on your personal circumstances, when plan maybe better than the other. It’s up to you to make the decision.

The predominant players in the Medicare supplement insurance industry are either Medigap policies or Medicare Advantage plans. With Medicare Advantage, you purchase a private policy from a health insurance provider who promises to give you at least the same benefits you would get from Parts A and B of Original Medicare. Medigap supplement insurance, on the other hand, only covers the gaps in Original Medicare. But because these plans cover less, they are easier to understand and they tend to have a lower price tag, too.

Kansas Medigap Plans

“Medigap” policies are the ten government-approved Medicare supplement insurance policies designed to protect you from the costly “gaps” in your Medicare benefits (hence Medi-“gap”). Plans A, B, C, D, F, G K, L, M and N are available in all 50 states, including Kansas, and each plan provides the exact same benefits as outlined in the table below. The only thing that varies are cost, and provider. Otherwise, each plan is exactly the same, regardless of your location.

Kansas Medicare Advantage Plans

Medicare Part C, which is more commonly referred to as Medicare Advantage, is another form of protection against the expensive gaps in Traditional Medicare coverage. By law, each Medicare Advantage (MA) policy has to give you the exact same benefits as Traditional Medicare. Some plans offer even more, such as vision, dental, or prescription drug coverage, in order to bring in more clients. But once you sign up for your MA plan, you transfer power from the federal government over to a private health insurance company with respect to your medical needs and benefits.

Those who sing the praises of MA admire the simplicity of only having to deal with one single company, as opposed to both a Medicare supplement insurance agency and the federal government. However, make sure that your current doctor (or doctors) are also a part of any MA network you might want to sign up for before purchasing a policy. Many HMO and PPO Medicare Advantage networks are restricted, and you might end up switching doctors if you don’t do your homework first.

Not sure whether you need a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) or a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)? The Medicare Advantage plan you choose will be a significant determining factor, among other things.

by Lindsay Malzone, Lindsay Malzone is the Medicare expert for Medigap.com. She's been contributing to many well-known publications as an industry expert since 2017. Her passion is educating Medicare beneficiaries on all their supplemental Medicare options so they can make an informed decision on their healthcare coverage.