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What Are Medicare Advantage Plans and How to Pick the Best One for You

Posted by David Ghiorso, CPA, November 16, 2020

Most people think of Medicare as one big program, for which you sign up at age 65 and then you’re finished. But actually, Medicare encompasses many parts, and you have access to a variety of options. You might also be surprised to learn that not all Medicare programs are actually run by the government.

What are Medicare Advantage Plans? Medicare Advantage plans, or Medicare Part C, are a popular option. Although they must meet certain standards set forth by Medicare, these plans are offered and managed through private health insurance providers.

Instead of enrolling in Original Medicare, which encompasses Medicare Parts A and B, you can select Medicare Advantage which combines the two types of healthcare into one convenient plan. That means you can get Part A (hospitalization) and Part B (office visits, routine testing, and so on) on one plan, with only one premium to pay. Many Medicare Advantage plans also include Part D (prescription drug) coverage.

How do I select a Medicare Advantage Plan? Advantage plans are convenient, but they are not all the same. First, understand that these plans are location-dependent, with different plans offered in different areas. Work with an experienced Medicare agent to identify the plans available in your area.

Second, like other private healthcare plans, Advantage plans work with a network of providers. Select a plan that includes the doctors and facilities that you prefer.

With regard to the included prescription drug coverage, examine the plan’s formulary before making your final decision. This list of covered prescription products will tell you whether your current medications will be covered, and at what rates.

Finally, Advantage plans are designed to help you manage your out-of-pocket spending. Carefully examine premiums, co-payments, deductibles, other coverage limits to identify the Advantage plan that is best for both your health and your budget.

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