Easy Ways to Compare Medicare Advantage PlansSeptember 07, 2017
You’ve probably noticed there are a lot of Medicare Advantage (MA) plans out there to choose from. Depending upon where you live, you could have your choice of a dozen or more plans. Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are offered by a variety of private companies, and these MA plans are not all the same. How do you know which one might be best for you?
- Things to Consider When Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan
Let’s start by asking, what is a Medicare Advantage plan?
It’s an alternative to Original Medicare run by a private insurance company instead of by the government. All MA plans, also known as Medicare Part C, must include hospital and medical coverage equal to Medicare Parts A and B. Beyond that, many MA plans have extras such as prescription drug coverage, wellness and fitness programs, and dental, vision and hearing benefits.
This extra coverage, along with its costs and particular rules, differs from plan-to-plan. So it’s a good idea to compare the details of Medicare Advantage plans before you choose one.
Many people see a low Medicare Advantage monthly payment — as low as $0 — and assume that’s all that matters. Don’t be dazzled by that alone. You should examine how a plan’s overall costs might add up over the year, including what you’ll spend on:
- Monthly payments
- Copayments and/or coinsurance (your percentage of a service’s cost)
- Out-of-pocket maximums, which may be different for in-network or out-of-network care
You might find an MA plan with a higher monthly payment is more affordable overall. Plus, cost is not the only factor to compare. Consider your own unique health situation and needs, along with the value of the extra benefits offered by those Medicare Advantage plans
- Questions to Ask as You Compare Medicare Advantage Plans
Begin by checking out the Medicare Advantage plan benefits that go beyond Medicare Parts A and B:
- Is prescription drug coverage included? If so, does it increase the monthly payment or require meeting a deductible before benefits begin?
- Are the medications I take on the plan’s list of covered drugs?
- Does the plan have restrictions, such as which pharmacies I can use or whether I need preapproval before I can get my prescriptions?
- What kind of wellness programs or fitness options does the plan offer?
- Does the plan cover eye exams, new glasses, hearing aids, and/or dental care?
- What other benefits and services are included?
- How much extra will I pay for any of these benefits?
Then look into the details of how you’ll get your covered services from doctors, hospitals and other providers with an MA plan:
- Are my current or favorite doctors, specialists and hospitals all part of this plan?
- Do I need to choose a Primary Care Physician (PCP)? If so, do I need their referral to see a specialist?
- If I visit a doctor or facility that’s not in my plan, will I need to pay more — or all — of the costs?
- What happens if I need services when I travel outside the area, or if I live in a different part of the country during part of the year?
- Are there reputable skilled nursing facilities and home health services in the plan’s network if I need them?
Whether you’re considering Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare
, or one MA plan vs. another, make sure you understand what each plan includes and what expenses you can expect. Some people like to consult a family doctor, insurance agent or trusted friend for a recommendation. But in the end, the choice is up to you.
Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company is a PDP plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company depends on contract renewal. Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company (Anthem) has contracted with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to offer the Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDPs) noted above or herein. Anthem is the state-licensed, risk-bearing entity offering these plans. Anthem has retained the services of its related companies and authorized agents/brokers/producers to provide administrative services and/or to make the PDPs available in this region. Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association. ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross name and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.
Anthem Blue Cross is an HMO plan with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in Anthem Blue Cross depends on contract renewal. Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association. ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross name and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.
Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association. ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross name and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association.
This information is not a complete description of benefits. Contact the plan for more information. Limitations, copayments, and restrictions may apply. Benefits, premiums and/or co-payments/co-insurance may change on January 1 of each year. You must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium.
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