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Snips or SNPs?: Your guide to Medicare Special Needs Plans

Learn more about the three types of SNPs and whether they would be a good fit for you.

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Understanding Medicare Special Needs Plans, or SNPs (pronounced “snips”) for short, can be challenging, but we’re here to help. Medicare SNPs are types of Medicare plans that are designed for folks with specific health conditions, certain health care needs, or those who also have Medicaid. They can be either HMO or PPO plans, and offer the same coverage as Original Medicare (Parts A and B), along with additional services.

What are the different kinds of Special Needs Plans?

There are three different kinds of Medicare SNPs: D-SNPs, C-SNPs and I-SNPs. All of these are Medicare Advantage plans that combine the benefits of Original Medicare (Parts A and B) with prescription drug coverage (Medicare D), and additional benefits as well. Let’s dive into each.

Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP)

A D-SNP is a plan specifically designed for someone who is “dual eligible” for both Medicare and Medicaid. In other words, if you’ve got both Medicare and Medicaid, you may be a good candidate for a D-SNP. D-SNPs offer comprehensive coverage and help you navigate your Medicare benefits as well as any additional benefits you may qualify for under Medicaid.

D-SNP Medicare Advantage plans offer all the medical coverage of Part A and Part B, as well as Medicare drug coverage (Part D). They often offer additional benefits such as money for food, utilities and rent, as well as dental, vision, and hearing benefits not usually offered by Original Medicare plans. These plans usually have minimal costs to you (most of the costs are covered by Medicare and Medicaid).

Chronic Special Needs Plan (C-SNP)

C-SNPs specialize in providing coverage tailored to people with specific long-term health conditions or disabling chronic conditions, such as diabetes, congestive heart failure and other qualifying cardiovascular conditions. You usually need a doctor’s verification to ensure that you qualify for a C-SNP.

Similar to D-SNPs, C-SNPs are Medicare Advantage plans that include Original Medicare (Part A and Part B) benefits, prescription drug coverage (Part D), and many additional benefits including dental, vision and hearing.

Institutional Special Needs Plan (I-SNP)

For those residing in a nursing home or requiring nursing care at home, I-SNPs are crafted to cover the extensive care these situations demand. They are focused on coordination of care because your primary care physician will work hand-in-hand with the rest of your care team to ensure that you are getting quality care.

I-SNPs are also Medicare Advantage plans that combine Medicare Parts A, B and D to offer a comprehensive plan for qualifying residents receiving specialized long-term care.

SNP eligibility starts with Medicare eligibility

All of these SNPs are types of Medicare plans, meaning that you have to have Medicare Parts A and B (known as Original Medicare) to qualify. If you’re not sure, check to see if you meet the eligibility requirements for Medicare.

Finding the right SNP plan in your area

Beyond eligibility, it is common for the types of SNPs to vary by location, so you should check with your health plan of choice or to see which specific plans and benefits are offered in your area. Devoted offers several D-SNP and C-SNP Medicare Advantage plans, and you can see the different plans offered by entering your zip code in this plan finder.

How much do these plans cost?

The price tags on SNPs can vary, with some plans offering a $0 premium for dual eligibles (D-SNPs). Other plans may charge a premium in addition to the monthly Part B premium. These can also vary by location, so it’s important to double check with your plan provider.

What about my prescription drugs?

The good news is that all SNPs must provide Medicare drug coverage (Part D). These are all Medicare Advantage plans, which package coverage for Part A (hospital insurance), Part B (medical insurance) and Part D (drugs) into a single plan.

Joining a Medicare Special Needs Plan

If you meet the eligibility requirements for Medicare and one or more of the SNPs, you can apply and verify with Medicare.

When it comes to Medicare Advantage enrollment, there are a few windows each year. These include:

  • The Annual Enrollment Period (AEP): October 15 to December 7 each year
  • The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period: January 1 to March 31 each year
  • Special Enrollment Periods: triggered by certain situations, such as losing your current coverage, having both Medicare and Medicaid, or having a severe, disabling condition

To enroll and learn more, you can call the Medicare hotline directly (1-800-633-4227) or speak directly with a SNP provider, such as Devoted Health.  You can call us directly at 1-800-483-8066 (TTY 711). Our licensed agents can help you learn more about the SNPs that we offer in your area and start you on your enrollment journey.

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