Known as “Part C” or an “all in one alternative,” Medicare Advantage Plans offer extra benefits that Original Medicare doesn’t cover.
But each plan can charge different out-of-pocket costs, depending on the coverage you need, and the annual rules set by Medicare.
That’s why it’s so important to understand how Medicare Advantage Plans work and how they can work for your unique needs.
Use this Medicare Advantage FAQ to gain answers to commonly asked questions about the increasingly popular alternative to Original Medicare.
Medicare Advantage FAQs
Unlike Original Medicare, which the federal government administers, Medicare Advantage plans are private health plans that contract with the federal government to provide Medicare benefits.
Medicare Advantage plans are becoming increasingly more popular, with 24 million enrolled in this type of coverage. For 2021, the average Medicare beneficiary has access to 33 Medicare Advantage plans, and 89% of all plans include prescription drug coverage.
The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period occurs annually from January 1 to March 31. You can drop your current Medicare Advantage plan for Original Medicare or switch your current Medicare Advantage plan for another Medicare Advantage Plan once during this period.
Your out-of-pocket costs will vary depending on the Medicare Advantage plan you choose.
The 2021 out-of-pocket maximum that you will have to pay with a Medicare Advantage plan is $7,550, but that amount doesn’t cover prescription drug coverage or monthly premiums. The maximum costs for those will be determined by each Medicare Advantage plan. You can visit Medicare’s Plan Finder to compare plans.
There are four common types of Medicare Advantage plans:
- Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans
- Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) Plans
- Private Fee-for-service (PFFS) Plans
- Special Needs Plans (SNPs)
When considering plans in your area, you should understand how each may differently impact your out-of-pocket costs, especially if you take specific drugs and want to ensure they are covered by a Medicare Advantage drug plan. You can visit Medicare’s Plan Finder to compare plans.
There are five different ways to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, but you should first check Medicare’s Plan Finder to compare plans and potentially enroll. However, you can also:
- Enroll through Plan Finder
- Visit the plan’s website
- Contact the plan to get a paper enrollment form (this is a required method for all plans)
- Call the plan and request to join
- Call 1-800-MEDICARE for assistance
When joining a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll need your Medicare number and the date your Part A and/or Part B coverage started.
Protect your Medicare card number
Regardless of how you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you will need to have your Medicare number (which can be found on your Medicare card) available.
Be careful and protect your Medicare card number! Here are some tips for preventing identity theft year-round:
- Medicare employees won’t contact you through unsolicited calls, emails, or visits. They won’t ask for personal identifiers unless you contact the agency yourself.