The only way to find the most suitable coverage plan for you is to compare the plans that are available. Many seniors feel that their Medicare coverage is inadequate, particularly if they only have the base coverage provided by Original Medicare. That’s why they turn to supplement plans (Medigap), Medicare Part D and Advantage plans. We are going to focus on the Advantage plans and show you how you can compare Medicare Advantage for 2018 to find the most appropriate plan for you.
What’s an Advantage Plan?
Let’s not assume that you know what Advantage plans are or what they cover. It won’t do you much good to learn how to compare them if you aren’t sure what you are comparing, so let’s start with a short explanation.
Your basic Medicare plan covers you for Medicare parts A and B, but it leaves you 20% of your medical bill to pay on your own. That can be a substantial amount still to pay, which is why many people love what the Medicare Advantage plans do for them. The coverage from an Advantage plan starts by taking care of all of Medicare parts A and B, not just 80%. It is not required to cover you for hospice care, but everything else is covered. Also included is coverage for annual checkups for your vision, for your hearing and more.
There are other items that the Advantage plans could cover you for, but they may not all do so. One of the most significant ones is the Medicare Part D coverage. That takes care of much of your prescription drug costs, and while it is something that you can buy separately, it’s always nice when it is included in your coverage plan.
Other coverage can be included as well. This coverage can vary from one plan to the next, which is why it is so important to compare the plans. You want to ensure that you are getting the best coverage possible. Don’t assume that all Advantage plans offer the same thing.
What to Compare
There are a few different aspects of the Advantage plans that you should compare. They are:
The price differs based on which insurance company you buy the plan from. Each one will set their rates however they like them, and they may even have price points that are very similar. Often, you will find a few different prices on plans that offer the same coverage as you look at a few different insurance companies.
The price can also change based on where you live. Since certain healthcare expenses might not be considered medically necessary in some states, the states they would be considered medically necessary in might have more expensive plans to compensate.
You also want to compare Medicare Advantage for 2018 based on their coverage. The big coverage difference to watch out for is the Part D coverage. Not all plans will come with that, and that can make a big difference in how much you are paying each month for healthcare. If you see an Advantage plan with a low rate, don’t just jump on it without looking closer. It’s quite possible that it does not include Part D coverage, which is very important for many seniors.
Also keep in mind that the coverage can differ in small ways, and while they may not seem like much, those small changes can add up over time. You must carefully consider whether you need specific items of coverage or if you are better off just paying those out of pocket when you encounter them.
Finally, make sure you pay attention to the network the Advantage plan comes with. Advantage plans work a bit differently than other types of Medicare plans. With most Medicare plans, if the hospital or doctor’s office you go to accepts Medicare plans, then you can go there, be treated and be covered according to your plan.
That’s not so with most Advantage plans. They operate on closed network, which means that only the approved medical facilities and doctors that are on the insurance company’s network will honor the full coverage provided by your insurance plan.
Thankfully, you have a few options when it comes to how you receive coverage from your plan’s network. In many cases, you will be able to choose between a PPO and an HMO plan.
The PPO plan lets you get at least some coverage no matter where you go. You can even go completely off network, and so long as the healthcare provider accepts Medicare, you will still get some coverage. It ought be full coverage, though, unless that healthcare facility is part of your insurance company’s network.
With an HMO plan, you pay less in premiums, but you also are not covered at as many locations. You only get covered if you go to an on-network facility for treatment. Going off network for treatment means that you will not be covered at all. Exceptions will be made for emergencies when you don’t have a choice as to where you go for treatment, but in most cases, the HMO plan is far more restrictive as to where you can recieve healthcare from and still be covered in any way.
You may find more network options than these, but you may also not qualify for them, so we just focus on these two common ones that most people would be eligible for.
You want to pay attention to the insurance providers network. See if your nearest healthcare provider is included on their network or if you must travel to get some fully insured medical care. That’s important to consider, as it can mean the difference between choosing one insurance company and their Advantage plan over another. That’s why you want to take time to compare Medicare Advantage for 2018.