If you're enrolled in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, in California, you may elect to receive your health insurance coverage through Medicare Advantage (Medicare Part C). You would then receive your health benefits through a private insurance company rather than through Original Medicare. Your coverage choices will depend on the California zip code in which you live and on the health insurance plan you select.
Medicare Advantage is private health insurance required by the US government to offer at least the same hospitalization and medical benefits as Original Medicare, Part A and Part B. Medicare Advantage plans in California may offer additional benefits, like vision, hearing, and dental.
As a Medicare beneficiary in California, you are required to sign up for Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, during your Initial Enrollment Period, which begins three months before you turn 65, includes your birthday month, and ends three months after that month. Failure to sign up for Original Medicare during this seven-month span may result in a late-enrollment penalty for as long as you remain enrolled in Medicare. You may enroll in Original Medicare at a later date, during the annual General Enrollment Period, which runs from January 1 to March 31, but you would have to pay a penalty fee.
Some Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage may decide to switch health plans to obtain different coverage. In California and the rest of the United States, you can change plans during the Annual Election Period, also called fall Open Enrollment Period, which runs from October 15 to December 7. Your new coverage goes into effect on January 1 of the following year.
As a California Medicare beneficiary, you may be allowed to switch Medicare plans during Special Enrollment Periods. If you go through certain life-changing events, like losing your current coverage, qualifying for other coverage, experiencing changes in your current plan that affect your health benefits, or moving to a new address where your old plan may not be available, you may be allowed to switch Medicare Advantage plans during a Special Enrollment Period. These periods vary according to your health plan and the reason you want to switch plans.
If you decide to leave Medicare Advantage and switch back to Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, you can do so during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, which runs from January 1 to February 14 each year in California and the rest of the United States.
There are various Medicare Advantage plans available in California. Here's a look at the main types of existing health plans:
As a Medicare beneficiary, it's important for you to compare all your available options when selecting a Medicare Advantage plan in California.
The availability and cost of Medicare Advantage plans generally varies depending on your state and county of residence. It's common for premiums of a Medicare Advantage plan with the same coverage and benefits to vary between different counties within the state of California. You may find that some Medicare Advantage plans in California offer premiums as low as $0; but always keep in mind that you must continue paying your Medicare Part B premiums, no matter which Medicare Advantage plan you choose, in order to keep your Medicare insurance coverage.
Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer additional benefits beyond what is included in Original Medicare, Part A and Part B, so you will need to determine exactly what kind of coverage you may require, plus whether or not you want prescription drug coverage with your Medicare Advantage policy through a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan. With all these options available in California, you can see why it can be important to compare plans with the benefits and costs best suited for your personal health needs.
To start comparing Medicare Advantage plans in California today, enter your zip code above for a customized list of plans available in your area. You can also enter your prescription drug needs to further customize your search and cost estimates.
For further details about Medicare insurance plans in California, access the following resources:
As you can see, there are various Medicare Advantage plan options available in California. To get help selecting the insurance plan that works best for your health needs:
Medicare has neither reviewed nor endorsed this information.