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Medicare Advantage Plan Choices

Dec 17

The choice you make between Original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage Plan is important, because if you select the wrong plan, you may have to pay higher copays for some services. In addition, the type of plan you select will have a major impact on your drug coverage (Medicare Part D), your monthly premiums and the amount you'll pay for covered services.

Guide To Selecting A Medicare Advantage Plan combine parts A, B and often Part D into one package that's offered by a private insurer. Each Medicare Advantage plan has a network of doctors, hospitals and other health care providers it works with to provide care. You'll usually get the most cost-effective care by going to in-network providers. But if you want to, you can also choose to go out-of-network for certain services and pay a higher copayment or coinsurance. All Medicare Advantage plans must cover the same services as traditional Medicare (Part A — hospital stays, some home health care and hospice care; Part B – doctor visits, outpatient services, medical supplies) and may offer extra benefits, like vision, hearing or dental care.

Some Medicare Advantage Plans don't charge a premium, but you'll still need to pay the monthly Medicare Part B premium. Most Medicare Advantage plans include Medicare prescription drug coverage (Medicare Part D).

You can get a bird's eye view of your options by using our Plan Finder tool. Just enter your zip code and then choose the "Medicare Advantage" tab to see plans available in your area. Then, use the filters to find a plan that meets your criteria.

When selecting a Medicare Advantage Plan, consider how you'll use your healthcare and what other benefits are important to you. For example, do you need a plan that's close to your doctor or hospital? If so, you'll need to check whether your doctor is in the plan's network.

Another consideration is the type of healthcare you'll need in the future. If you're planning to have significant health needs, you might want to select a Medicare Advantage Plan with higher out-of-pocket limits.

The final factor to keep in mind is that plan costs, deductibles, copayments and benefits change each year. So if you select a Medicare Advantage Plan, it's important to revisit your choices each year during Medicare's open enrollment period from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

Disenrollment from a Medicare Advantage Plan

You can only disenroll from a Medicare Advantage Plan during an election period, which generally starts three months before your 65th birthday, the month you turn 65, or during the three-month period that follows. You can enroll in another Medicare Advantage Plan during the enrollment period, or you can return to original Medicare by providing your current plan sponsor with written notice by mail, fax or online. Exceptional circumstances may also allow you to make an early MA plan disenrollment.

The Medicare Plan Finder tool will tell you when an election period is in place for your plan.

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