Medicare Advantage plans are alternatives to Original Medicare and are sold by private insurance companies. They cover all the benefits under Original Medicare and cover extra services that include, but are not limited to prescription drugs, dental, hearing, and vision care.
To enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you must first be enrolled in Original Medicare.
Types of Medicare Advantage Plans
Health Maintenance Organization Plans: HMO plans typically limit their coverage to in-network healthcare providers. This means there is a list of health providers to choose from, but you may cover all the out-of-pocket costs for the services if you choose to receive care out-of-network. These plans may also require you to select a primary care physician from one of their networks and get referrals when a specialist is needed.
Preferred Provider Organization Plans: PPO plans offer more flexibility than HMO plans but at a higher cost. Though each PPO plan has a list of in-network providers, you will typically have the option to get healthcare services from out-of-network providers. However, you will pay more for these services but will still get more coverage than you would with an HMO plan. Also, you don’t need a referral to go to a specialist, nor are you required to choose a primary care physician.
Private Fee-For-Service Plans: This type of Medicare Advantage plan allows you to keep or choose any healthcare provider as long as they accept the terms of your Medicare Advantage plan. You won’t be required to choose a primary care physician or get referrals to visit a specialist. However, this plan will decide how much they will pay for your services, as well as how much you will pay.
Special Needs Plans: Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans are available to individuals with chronic health conditions and specific healthcare needs. These plans will cover everything that Original Medicare does, and they are required to provide prescription drug coverage. The three types of Special Needs Plans are:
- Chronic Condition Special Needs plans.
- Institutional Special Needs plans.
- Dual Eligible Special Needs plans.
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If you have a Medicare Advantage program, you must pay your Medicare Part B premiums regularly. However, some Medicare Advantage plans may cover part of this premium.
Some Advantage plans have premiums as low as $0, but the average premium for a Medicare Advantage plan is around $21 per month. There’s also a maximum out-of-pocket limit ($7,550 in 2021) for Part C plans, thereby reducing the total out-of-pocket costs you’ll cover.
The Bottom Line
Medicare Advantage plans are a good choice if you want the coverage provided by Original Medicare and the extra benefits that a Medicare Advantage plan can provide.
Medicare Advantage Enrollment
You become eligible for Medicare Advantage when you enroll in Original Medicare which must include Part A and Part B coverage. You can enroll in Part C when you enroll in part B (you can’t drop part B if you want to use Medicare Advantage).
There are several times trough year when you can enroll:
- Initial coverage enrollment period: it begins 3 months before your 65th birthday and 3 months after your 65th birthday month
- Annual enrollment period: most common period to enroll, it starts 15th of October and ends 7th of December (notice: the plan will be effective on the 1st of January
- Special enrollment period: it includes special circumstances such as low-income status, life-changing events, etc.
Our Agents Can Help
If you’re interested in a Medicare Advantage plan, reach out to Better Place Insurance Group and our Florida Medicare Agents! Our goal is to help make Medicare a bit simpler and ease the confusion, and by doing so, we can help you compare plans, coverage, and costs.