Medicare Advantage Premiums
Monthly premiums can vary considerably among Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Medicare Part C plans or Medicare Health Insurance plans). After mastering a few key concepts related to the pricing considerations of Medicare Advantage plans, you can make a more informed enrollment decision than you would if you know nothing about the nature of the Medicare Advantage market.
The monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan covers the plan's medical and hospitalization benefits as well as Medicare prescription drug coverage if it is included (most Medicare Advantage plans include medication coverage). As is the case for Medicare prescription drug plans (PDP)s, Medicare Advantage plans do not have a standardized monthly premium. A higher monthly premium does not automatically indicate superior drug and healthcare coverage.
It is recommended that you use online tools to compare Medicare Advantage costs to assess estimated annual costs (including co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles alongside monthly premiums) for each plan available in your area covering the drugs you take on a regular basis. If you do not take any medications, the cost of monthly premiums alone may be a more overriding aspect of the enrollment decision.
Extra Help program enrollees do not pay a monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan if the Medicare Advantage plan's monthly premium does not exceed the benchmark monthly premium for Medicare Advantage plans in their region. Individuals are eligible for the Extra Help by meeting certain income/asset conditions or belonging to other qualifying programs such as Medicaid. Many people are eligible for these savings and don't know it. For more information about this Extra Help, contact your local Social Security office or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048.
Medicare Advantage Costs
Remember that a Medicare Advantage plan can cost more than its monthly premiums alone. Enrollees have co-payments, co-insurance, and deductibles associated with doctor's visits, hospital stays, and other healthcare services. Enrollees also have out-of-pocket expenses associated with medications (e.g. deductibles and co-payments). Medicare Advantage plans have a maximum allowable deductible that they can charge but have the option of reducing or eliminating this deductible. The co-payments for the same medication may be different among different Medicare Advantage plans. Consequently, it is advisable to compare the annual estimated costs among Medicare Advantage health insurance plans based on your normal monthly medication purchases. By including all plan costs, and not just the premium, you can make a more informed decision.
Compare Medicare Advantage Plans
To make a knowledgeable purchase decision on a Medicare Advantage plan, you should utilize a comparison tool that will present annualized premium and out-of-pocket cost estimates among the Medicare Advantage plans using your personalized medication usage. Try our free Medicare Advantage Plan Comparison tool to compare premiums and medication costs among different Medicare Advantage plans.
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Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called "Part C" or "MA Plans," are offered by private companies approved by Medicare and provide Medicare Part A and Part B coverage. Medicare prescription drug coverage is insurance run by an insurance company or other private company approved by Medicare. A Medicare Supplement plan is a health insurance plan provided by a private company that fills in the "gaps" in original Medicare coverage.