Text Resize
Print
Email
Subsribe to RSS Feed

Thursday June 30, 2022

Savvy Living

Savvy Senior

How to Choose a Medicare Advantage Plan

I will be 65 and eligible for Medicare in a few months. I am interested in getting a Medicare Advantage plan to cover my health care and medications. What tips can you provide to help me pick a plan?

Medicare Advantage plans have become very popular among retirees over the past 15 years. Nearly half of all new Medicare enrollees are signing up for Advantage plans, accounting for about 42% of the entire Medicare market. Here are some tips and tools to help you pick a plan that fits your needs.

Medicare Advantage plans (also known as Medicare Part C) are government approved health plans sold by private insurance companies that you can choose in place of original Medicare. The majority of Advantage plans are managed-care policies such as HMOs or PPOs that require you to get your care within a network of doctors.

If you join an Advantage plan, the plan will provide all of your Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) coverage like original Medicare does. However, many plans also offer extra benefits such as dental, hearing and vision coverage, gym/fitness memberships, and prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Advantage plans are also more affordable than if you were to purchase original Medicare, plus a separate Part D drug plan and a Medigap policy. Many Advantage plans have $0 or low monthly premiums and do not always have a deductible, but they typically have a high out-of-pocket maximum. In 2021, Advantage plan participants on average were responsible for an out-of-pocket maximum of around $5,100 for in-network care, and about $9,200 for out-of-network care.

How to Choose


To help you pick a plan, a good first step is to call the office managers of the doctors you use and find out which Advantage plans they accept and recommend. Then, go to the Medicare Plan Finder tool at Medicare.gov/plan-compare to compare Advantage plans in your area. This tool provides a five-star rating system that evaluates each plan based on past customer satisfaction and quality of care the plan delivers. When comparing, here are some key points to consider:

Total costs: Look at the plan's entire pricing package, not just the premiums and deductibles. Compare the maximum out-of-pocket costs plus the copays and coinsurance charged for doctor office visits, hospital stays, visits to specialists, prescription drugs and other medical services. This is important because if you choose an Advantage plan, you are not allowed to purchase a Medigap policy, which means you will be responsible for paying these expenses out of your own pocket.

Drug coverage: Check the plan's formulary – the list of prescription drugs covered – to be sure all the medications you take are covered without excessive co-pays or requirements.

Dental, vision and hearing: Many Advantage plans come with dental, vision and hearing benefits, but are usually limited. Get the details on what exactly is covered.

Coverage away from home: Most Advantage plans limit you to using in-network doctors only within a service area or geographic region, so find out what is covered if you need medical care when you are away from home.

Out-of-network coverage: Check to see what is covered if you want to see a specialist in a hospital that is not in a plan's network. You can get a list of doctors and hospitals that take part in a plan on the plan's website.

Need Help?


If you need help choosing a plan, contact your State Health Insurance Assistance Program at ShipHelp.org or call 877-839-2675. Also see the HealthMetrix Research 2022 Cost Comparisons Report at MedicareNewsWatch.com that lists the best Advantage plans based on health status.

Savvy Living is written by Jim Miller, a regular contributor to the NBC Today Show and author of "The Savvy Living" book. Any links in this article are offered as a service and there is no endorsement of any product. These articles are offered as a helpful and informative service to our friends and may not always reflect this organization's official position on some topics. Jim invites you to send your senior questions to: Savvy Living, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070.

Published April 8, 2022
Print
Email
Subsribe to RSS Feed

Previous Articles

Helpful Tips on Designating an Estate Planner

Does Medicare Cover Power Lift Chairs?

Affordable Smartphone Plans

Can COVID-19 Cause Shingles?

Driving Tips for Aging Parents

scriptsknown
  • Bequests
    Bequests
    Joe and Anna have been faithful supporters of our organization. They believe it is important to help further our mission.
    More
  • Using a Beneficiary Designation to Make a Gift to Charity
    Using a Beneficiary Designation to Make a Gift to Charity
    Joanne and her late husband Hal had been longtime supporters of our organization. Recently, Joanne's children encouraged...
    More
  • Fixed Income for Retirement
    Fixed Income for Retirement
    After working for decades as a pediatrician in a small town, Patricia is ready to retire.
    More
  • Tax-Free Sale
    Tax-Free Sale
    Howard and Lynn were both age 55 when they purchased some vacant land a few miles outside of town. They thought real estate would be a good investment that could be sold later for a profit.
    More
  • Capital Gains Tax Bypassed
    Capital Gains Tax Bypassed
    Peter and Gail were nearing retirement. Over the years, with the help of their financial advisor, they made solid investments in securities and built a sizable portfolio.
    More
  • Peace of Mind Gift Annuity
    Peace of Mind Gift Annuity
    Many years ago, Clara bought a home. Since she was very pleased with her home, she bought stock in the company that built the home.
    More
  • Endowment Gift
    Endowment Gift
    Pat and Shelly were recently married. They both had been dedicated volunteers at their favorite charity for many years.
    More
  • Sale and Unitrust
    Sale and Unitrust
    Gene and Carol purchased stock in a small medical service company several years ago. The company has done well.
    More
  • The Retirement Unitrust
    The Retirement Unitrust
    Mary grew up on a farm. When her parents passed away, she and her husband Bill inherited the farm.
    More
  • Property Turns Into Income
    Property Turns Into Income
    Miranda lived in the family home where she and her spouse had raised their three children. After her spouse passed away, Miranda found it increasingly difficult to care for her property.
    More
  • Flexible Deferred Gift Annuity
    Flexible Deferred Gift Annuity
    Luis is a 54-year-old executive at a large healthcare company. He purchased company stock during years when the stock price was low, and now the stock has grown substantially in value.
    More
  • Part Gift and Part Sale
    Part Gift and Part Sale
    Susan and Kevin bought a vacant lot along Lake Michigan many years ago. They had planned to build a second home so that their family could spend their summers along the lake.
    More
  • Current Gifts
    Current Gifts
    As is the case with many families, there are times each year when Jim and Sharon focus their attention on gift giving.
    More
  • Gift of a Bank Account When No Longer Needed (POD)
    Gift of a Bank Account When No Longer Needed (POD)
    Keith has been a faithful supporter of The Marfan Foundation and makes regular gifts to support our work.
    More
  • Transferable on Death (TOD) Gifts
    Transferable on Death (TOD) Gifts
    Harold and Jeanne married after meeting at an event The Marfan Foundation held for our donors. They wanted to leave a legacy gift...
    More
  • A Bequest to Further Good Work
    A Bequest to Further Good Work
    Nancy and David were dedicated volunteers. Over the years, they had seen many individuals helped by the good work of their favorite charity.
    More
  • Deferred Gift Annuity
    Deferred Gift Annuity
    Several years ago, Larry and Allison invested $30,000 in what they believed to be an attractive stock.
    More
  • What Will You Do with Your Unspent Retirement Savings?
    What Will You Do with Your Unspent Retirement Savings?
    Michael and Kelly were retired engineers with two adult children. They owned a home, some stocks, and IRAs.
    More
  • Gift Annuity for Real Estate
    Gift Annuity for Real Estate
    Jonathan purchased his home many years ago for $80,000. The home is now worth $420,000. Jonathan wants to sell his home and buy a condo for $130,000.
    More
  • A Bequest to Save Taxes
    A Bequest to Save Taxes
    Thomas was a widower who had a great love for our organization. As an individual who had directly benefited from our work, Thomas wanted to thank us with a gift from his estate.
    More
  • Leading for the Future
    Leading for the Future
    Luke and Cynthia spent many years volunteering and supporting their favorite charity. They wanted to give back in a way that would help fulfill its mission.
    More
  • Give it Twice Trust
    Give it Twice Trust
    While visiting her favorite charity's website, June came across the idea of a give it twice trust. She contacted the charity for more information.
    More
  • Providing for Our Children's Future
    Providing for Our Children's Future
    Ron and Kathy worked for many years building their nest egg for retirement.
    More
  • Bequest of Insurance
    Bequest of Insurance
    Marla and Wayne purchased a life insurance policy many years ago to create security for their children's future.
    More
  • Testamentary Charitable Remainder Unitrust: Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!
    Testamentary Charitable Remainder Unitrust: Have Your Cake and Eat it Too!
    We have all heard the saying "You can't have your cake and eat it too." This phrase describes a situation where we want two good things at the same time when that isn't possible.
    More
  • A Personal Donor Story
    A Personal Donor Story
    "I want the work of the foundation to go forward whether I'm here or not"
    Estate planning is your final statement about the causes you care about
    More