What is Medicare Advantage?

A Medicare Advantage plan is a private health insurance plan approved by Medicare. You may opt to get your Part A, B and D benefits from a Medicare Advantage plan instead of traditional Medicare. Originally called Part C, these Medicare private insurance plans usually have an HMO or PPO network of doctors.

What are the "advantages" of a Medicare Advantage plan?

Many people who chose these all-in-one plans like a more packaged approach—and the price. Medicare Advantage plans typically have lower premiums than Original Medicare plus a Part D prescription plan and Medigap policy. Plus Medicare Advantage plans usually cap out-of-pocket spending. In 2019, the cap is set at $6,700 for in-network services. That means you'll pay your co-share costs up to the cap, then your plan will pay 100% after that. Many add coverage for health care not included with Original Medicare, such as vision, dental, and hearing aids. New this year, some MA plans offer discounts for nutrition services, non-skilled in-home support, and home modifications such as grab bars in the shower or temporary wheel chair ramps that allow seniors to remain at home.

How much does Medicare Advantage cost?

There is a wide range of costs. Your specific policy will depend on the ZIP Code where you live in retirement, the features you choose, and how much flexibility and convenience you want. For example, if you live in Fort Myers, Florida, and take 2 generic prescriptions, there are 23 MA plans with drug coverage available. Of those plans, 17 are offered at $0 additional premiums; the other 6 range from $42 to $148 in monthly premiums. Each has different out-of-pocket maximums, different access to doctors, and other varying features.

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