Medicare Advantage plans may change every year. The good news is that the general trend for Medicare Advantage plans in 2020 is more covered services at a lower, or even $0 monthly premium.  Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are available from private, Medicare-approved insurance companies. Availability, premiums, and out-of-pocket costs can vary based on factors such as where you live, how comprehensive the plan’s coverage is, and the insurance company offering the plan. These plans can also change certain coverage details each year.

The Kaiser Family Foundation reports in 2019 that over one-third (34%) of all Medicare beneficiaries (which equals 22 million people) were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.

Medicare Advantage changes for 2020: Extra Benefits

In 2020 Medicare Advantage plans may offer supplemental benefits to beneficiaries with chronic diseases. These supplemental benefits may include:

  • Home air cleaners
  • Carpet shampooing to reduce asthma attacks
  • Meal delivery
  • Transportation for non-medical needs like grocery shopping

For someone with diabetes, a Medicare Advantage plan could offer transportation to a doctor’s appointment, a diabetes education program, or a visit to a nutritionist.

Medicare Advantage changes for 2020: new enrollment period

In 2020 you will have two opportunities to make changes to your Medicare Advantage coverage. During the first period, the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (OEP) January 1-March 31 you will be able to:

  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another one
  • Disenroll from Medicare Advantage and return to Original Medicare
  • Enroll in a stand-alone prescription drug plan if you returned to Original Medicare

The second yearly enrollment period is the Annual Election Period (AEP) October 15-December 7. During this period you will be able to:

  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan
  • Change from Medicare Advantage back to Original Medicare
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another Medicare Advantage plan
  • Join a Medicare prescription drug plan
  • Switch Medicare prescription drug plans 

Medicare Advantage changes for 2020: no premium.

Some Medicare Advantage plans may offer monthly premiums as low as $0, while others will charge a higher amount.  Your plan’s out-of-pocket costs (like deductibles, copayments, and/or coinsurances) may increase or decrease in 2020. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), half of Medicare Advantage enrollees in fact pay no premium in 2019 for their Medicare Advantage plan. They still must pay the Medicare Part B premium. According to eHealth research, the average monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan in 2019 was just $8. This is down 33% from $12 in 2018.

Other Medicare Advantage plan changes in 2020

Medicare Advantage plans provide your Medicare Part A and Part B benefits through a private, Medicare-approved insurance company. Part A still covers hospice care directly, but the rest of your Original Medicare benefits are delivered through the Medicare Advantage plan. Many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage and sometimes other benefits, such as routine dental services.

There is no guarantee that once you enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan that the details (costs and/or coverage) will stay the same each year. You might want to review your plan’s Annual Notice of Change to make sure the benefits still fit your needs. Your plan sends this notice every fall.

If you’re enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan, your plan’s formulary (list of covered prescription drugs) might change from year to year- this is another reason to review your plan’s Annual Notice of Change. The formulary may change at any time. You will receive notice from your plan when necessary.

Finally, requirements may also change. Some Medicare Advantage plans require that beneficiaries only use health-care providers in a certain network, while others may require that beneficiaries choose a primary care physician. These restrictions may change from year-to-year just like cost and benefits for 2018 Medicare Advantage plans.

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