Advantage plans are like a more powerful substitute for the basic Medicare plan. They pack more coverage, but they also cost more, so before you sign up for one, you want to know what you are getting into and how well it might work for you. We are going to do a Medicare Advantage plans comparison for 2018 for you.
What Different Plans Are There?
You purchase Advantage plans from insurance companies other than Medicare. So, Mutual of Omaha, AARP, and tons of others sell Advantage plans, but these are all plans that are regulated by Medicare. Each insurance company that sells Advantage plans typically only has a single plan, but then they offer you different coverage options.
Usually, you will get two main coverage options, which have to do with networks. These are PPO and HMO. The PPO plan will cover you anywhere you go. You won’t get full coverage at every hospital and clinic and doctor’s office you visit when you sign up for a PPO plan, but you will at least get partial coverage. You will be fully covered only at those facilities that have agreed to accept your insurance company’s plan. So, if you sign up with AARP for a PPO Advantage plan, and you go to a hospital that doesn’t accept their coverage plans, then you still get some partial coverage. Going to a network facility (one that does accept their plan) gives you full coverage.
If you go with the HMO option, then you get full coverage at on-network facilities. If you go off the network and try to get care anywhere that doesn’t accept your company’s policy, then you get no coverage at all. The only exception to that would be if you were forced to go to an off-network facility for a medical emergency.
These are your primary choices for Advantage plans, and there will be others, but you are less likely to find other options and also less likely to qualify for them. To qualify for these two, you simply have to be 65 years old and eligible for Medicare, in most cases.
How Advantage Plans Cover You
You have more options than just the network for the plan you choose. Advantage plans come in few different varieties, and while they all share the same basic coverage, you will find plenty of variations that add some extra coverage on top of that.
The base coverage is for all of Medicare Part A and Part B. You also get covered for emergency and urgent care services. If you still have the basic medical plan, then the Advantage plan will cover hospice care for you.
In most cases, the Advantage plan will cover you for Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage. That’s not a required part of basic coverage, though, so check carefully if the plan you are interested in has it, if you do want that particular item of coverage. Note that when you do a Medicare Advantage plans comparison for 2018 and you don’t see the Part D coverage in one of them, that you can get that coverage separate, if you want. So, that missing item of coverage doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. If you like everything else that particular Advantage plan offers and the price it’s being sold at, then by all means go for it and buy the Part D coverage in addition to it.
Advantage plans can cover you for more medical expenses as well. You may be covered for items often taken care of by supplement plans. You won’t be able to sign up for a supplement plan in addition other Advantage plan, as there may be some overlap between them. So, you have to pick which one you want. In most cases, the Advantage plan offers more coverage than a supplement plan would, but they can cover different items. So, pay close attention to what the plan covers and how it meets your individual needs.
What to Choose
We would be doing you a disservice if we told you about your options but didn’t give you some help as to which one to choose. You have to pick the plan that is right for you, based on what your medical needs are and your finances. You need a plan that you can afford but that also covers you for medical expenses you would have trouble paying on your own or that would be cheaper to have covered by an insurance plan.
When choosing a network or your plan, we suggest going with an HMO, if possible This will be cheaper, but it gives you fewer options. If you don’t have any on-network facilities in your area, then you may be forced to go with the PPO plan or choose a different insurance company to buy your Advantage plan from. As far as coverage goes, we suggest looking at your personal needs. Look at the medical expenses you are paying every month or at least a few times per year and ensure that those are covered. Those that are relatively cheap for you to pay, you can probably just keep paying on your own, but you want to get those bigger ones covered under an insurance plan to save money.
Keep in mind that the coverage needs you have today may be different from what they will be in a year or two. You may need a different coverage plan in 2018 than what is working well for you right now. So, even if the Advantage plans that are available are too robust for you or not a good deal at this point, that doesn’t mean they will continue to be poor choices later. You may find that you can save money by signing up for one of these in the near future.
At any rate, if you are a senior or a Medicare subscriber, then you should be doing a Medicare Advantage plans comparison for 2018 to see if it is a good option for you.