The right medical insurance plan can provide a senior with peace of mind and reduce their healthcare expenses. Medicare Advantage 2020 offers seniors a high coverage plan that will benefit a large number of people. Those wanting to find out more about these kinds of plans and what they can do for them should read our in-depth look at Medicare Advantage plans for 2020.
How Advantage Plans Cover Healthcare Costs
Advantage plans were designed by Medicare, but Medicare does not sell them. Medicare allows private insurers to sell these plans, and it even lets them set their own prices and choose what kind of coverage to add onto the basic required coverage.
That basic coverage will serve as a replacement for Original Medicare, if you already have that plan from Medicare. Advantage plans cover all the same healthcare expenses as Original Medicare, except for the expenses you pay for hospice care. On top of that, they will cover the cost of emergency medical treatments (such as emergency room visits) and urgently needed care (which can include lab tests and medications).
On top of that basic coverage, Medicare Advantage plans may also provide you some more coverage. Depending on what the insurers decide to offer with their plans, you can find versions of Medicare Advantage that take care of Medicare Part D costs (which will cover many prescription drugs) and many checkup costs. When you visit your doctor for an annual checkup or see an optometrist about your eyes, those visits could be fully covered as could any hearing aids or prescription eyeglasses you are advised to purchase after your visit. Not all Advantage plans offer this additional coverage for apparatus, checkups and Part D, but many of them do, and anyone wanting a plan that includes them simply needs to look until they find one.
Advantage Plan Options
There are lots of options for Advantage plans, and seniors are not restricted to just one or two companies. They can choose from many nationwide insurers as well as a host of local insurers. There are numerous insurance companies that operate solely within the confines of a single state, while others operate across the country. These compete with one another, offering different prices on different Advantage plans and giving seniors lots of choices for medical coverage.
Anyone hoping to find the best deal on medical coverage with all these choices to pick from will need to compare coverage and prices. They can do that using a price comparison service, which is a free online service that lists a number of prices for a given plan just by entering a simple search. This is the best way to find the lowest price on Advantage plans, and it is a service seniors can come back and use as often as they wish to keep up with changing rates and to find the right plan each year when it is time to renew plans.
Medicare Advantage plans are sold under a few different names. You might find them listed as Medicare Part C. That’s the same plan, and it simply means that it is part of the Medicare-created line-up of plans. Medicare does not actually sell these plans, and they cannot work in conjunction with some of the other parts of Medicare or other Medicare plans.
If you want Part D coverage, but the Advantage plan you are looking to buy does not include it, then you can always sign up for your Advantage plan and then buy the Part D coverage separately. Part D is sold privately as well, so you can compare prices and coverage on this plan to find the best deal.
Advantage plans are not compatible with Medicare Supplements, also known as Medigap plans. These simply intersect with each other when it comes to coverage, and you are not permitted to have overlapping coverage.
With Medicare Advantage plans, you will see the names of the plans listed as being HMO or PPO in a lot of cases. This titles simply tell you where your coverage will be approved and how much coverage you can get in various places.
HMO and PPO refer to the network coverage provided by the plan. HMOs are simple and cheaper versions of Advantage plans. These are what most people sign up for, and they will cover you completely according to the terms of your plan at any medical facility that has accepted your insurer’s plans. Those kind of medical facilities (clinics, pharmacies, doctor’s offices and hospitals) are considered to be on the insurance company’s network. Each insurance company that sells Advantage plans has a network that is made up of medical facilities that have decided to accept its plans.
Once you go to a medical facility for healthcare treatment that is not on the network, then your coverage may not be valid. They don’t accept your insurer’s plans, so you should not expect to be covered there at all.
That’s with an HMO plan, anyway. If you go the PPO route, you will pay more for your coverage, but you will be covered in more places. You will still be fully covered at any network facility, but you will be partially covered if you go anywhere else that is off the network.
Seniors should take a long, hard look at their network option before making a choice. It can mean the difference between picking a plan that works for you and gives you peace of mind and picking one that leaves you high and dry when it comes time to pay the bill. You want a coverage plan that saves you money, and depending on where you live and what insurer networks are like around you, you will have to choose one or the other.
PPO plans tend to be great for Medicare Advantage 2020 subscribers who want coverage where there are few medical facilities around. It is also a good choice for people who travel often and may not know where they will be from week to week or month to month. They may not know if they will be able to get to a medical facility that is on their insurer’s network, so a PPO plan is often the better option there. It gives them more flexibility and ensures that they can be covered anywhere.
HMO plans are best for people who live in heavily populated areas, as these tend to have lots of choices for medical treatment facilities. Where there are lots of people, there will usually be lots of clinics, hospitals and such. That means that your insurance company is more likely to have a valid network active in that area. You need to choose a plan that is relevant to your needs.
Look at the network for an insurance company you are thinking about buying a plan with. The network can vary considerably from one another, and there can be a lot of overlap between networks. If one insurance company doesn’t have much of a network in your area, then you may want to consider picking a different insurer.
You Have Other Choices
If you are a senior who needs medical insurance, then you should be aware that Medicare Advantage plans are not the only option. There are some other types of plans that may work better for you or that could attach onto an Advantage plan and provide you with the proper coverage.
A lot of seniors who have looked at Advantage plans or signed up for them, when they go to pick something else for whatever reason, go with Medicare Supplements. These are designed by Medicare as well, and they are sold by private insurance companies.
The big differences between Advantage plans and Supplement plans is that Supplement plans cannot have their coverage modified or added to in any way, and they work in conjunction with your Original Medicare plan. You’ll need to be signed up for an Original Medicare plan at the same time in order for your Supplement plan to be valid at all.
Medicare oversees the supplement plans, and it occasionally makes changes to what they cover and who can sign up for them. There are ten of these plans right now, all with coverage that has been picked to by Medicare and that can only be altered by Medicare. Insurance companies can pick which of these plans they want to offer, and they usually only offer a few of the most popular plans or the ones that are most relevant to their coverage area.
Recently, some legislation was passed regarding Medicare Supplements. Now, the two highest coverage plans- F and C- are no longer available to every senior who is eligible for Medicare. These two plans are restricted to only those who are currently signed up for them. So, that means these two plans can only be renewed and not subscribed to by new subscribers. That’s fine if you want similar coverage, though, as you can get it at a much better price with Plan G or Pan N.
If you already have either Plan F and Plan C, then we suggest you reevaluate your coverage before renewing your contract on these plans. They are likely to become very expensive very fast, due to what is known as closed risk pool. This means that with no new subscribers, the current subscribers have to bear the entirety of the costs that help to keep these plans profitable.
Is Medicare Advantage the Right Choice?
We have looked at an alternative to Medicare Advantage, and now we want to focus once more on Advantage plans. These are powerful coverage plans that can take care of a lot of medical expenses for you, but picking the right one can be a tricky task.
You have to consider the cost of the plans and how that compares to your financial situation. There could be an Advantage plan that fits you well but that you are unable to afford. You also have to consider the coverage of the plans. You want something that covers those expenses you struggle to pay on your own while also providing coverage for the possibility of unexpected costs. You never know when you may need to take a trip to the emergency room or need an operation performed. The coverage doesn’t have to take care of every medical expense you have, though. Some of those expenses are cheaper to pay for on your own, and you should compare the cost of coverage to the cost of out-of-pocket expenses to ensure you actually need insurance coverage on all of your expenses.
The final item to look at when you are comparing plans and trying to determine what insurance plan is best for you is the network. We covered this in-depth already, but it is something that many seniors overlook when they go to purchase Advantage plans. They don’t consider if the doctor they have been visiting for years or the hospital that is closest to them are covered under the rework of the insurance company that are considering choosing. Remember that when you sign up for an insurance plan, you are also singing up with the insurance company, and all that comes with that. It may be beneficial to look at the reputation of the company and their stability in pricing and not just the network they have to offer.
Medicare Advantage plans are a great choice for many seniors, and they have the potential to cut your medical costs considerably, but they are not the only choice you have. You should take the time to look at your options and consider how much coverage you will need for 2020. It’s a good idea to spend some time talking to your doctor and your insurance agent to figure out what would be best for you.
In the end, however you have to choose a plan that fits you. It needs to be your decision, and you may determine that Medicare Advantage 2020 is the best choice, but we urge you to look over the advantages and disadvantages of this kind of plan and compare it to your various options before you make that decision.