Medicare Advantage plans are another way to receive Medicare benefits. Advantage plans replace your Original Medicare Part A and B benefits with coverage through a private insurance company. Most Advantage plans add on extra coverage to be competitive. For example, many help out with dental services, eyeglasses, hearing aids and prescription drugs, whereas Medicare doesn’t with one exception. It does help if you develop cataracts.
One of the big selling points behind the growth in Medicare Advantage enrollment is low premiums. In some areas, plans are available that cost nothing beyond Medicare Part B premiums. Another major attraction is that Medicare Advantage Plans accept all health problems except End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
There are some things that you need to understand about these plans before you enroll, though. Most plans only cover non-emergency care through their own list of doctors and hospitals. Since Medicare Advantage plans replace Medicare’s coverage, you won’t have any coverage through Medicare either should you need an out-of-network doctor.
Each of the Medicare Advantage plans sets its own rules, but all must abide by the guidelines from Medicare. All Advantage plans must provide equal or better coverage than Medicare, too. To be sure that you’ll be able to get the health care you need, check the list of doctors and which prescriptions a plan will pay for before you enroll.
It’s rare for health insurance to offer trial periods, but that’s just what you can do with dozens of different Medicare Advantage Plans. Enroll before December 15, and if you change your mind, you can switch back to Medicare between January 1 and February 14 next year.
Medicare Advantage Plans Have A Special “Try It Out” Period
Actually, this is only time that you can try out one of the Medicare Advantage (MA) plans after the initial sign up period when you first became eligible for Medicare. This is a once a year event where you can assess the type of MA plan you got out of the dozen choices laid out in front of you by different insurers and insurance companies. If you let this chance slip by, you might end up paying more and getting less coverage than what you bargained for.
Depending on where you live, you may find a lot more choices among MA plans than Medigap Insurance plans. Unless you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota or Wisconsin, you’ll only find 10 choices of Medigap plans. The mentioned states have their own version of Medigap plans.
This year, open enrollment has been moved up to an earlier time to get it over and done with long before the end of the year. Beneficiaries are now being told their benefits will start January 1.
From October 15 until December 7, Medicare beneficiaries can sign up for a MA plan from a private health insurance company, but here’s why it’s better to start looking for a plan as soon as possible. MA plans are not available everywhere, but there can be an array of choices in urban settings. More than 24 different plans are reportedly available in certain locations.
With online searches, it’s fairly easy to compare your choices. Be sure to compare plans from different insurance companies whenever possible. Independent health insurance brokers also offer free telephone consultations to answer questions and help you compare coverage through various policies.
If you enroll in one of the Medicare Advantage Plans and find that you like Original Medicare benefits more, you are allowed to switch back between January 1 and February 14, 2012. You may also join a Medicare Prescription Drug plan at the same time since you’ll be losing drug coverage from the Advantage plan.