Over the past weeks we have discussed Medicare A and B. In addition to these original Medicare plans there is also Medicare C, better known as Medicare Advantage (MA). MA plans are administer by private insurance companies that require a monthly fixed amount to provide Part A and Part B benefits through their company rather than original Medicare. MA plans are required to follow Medicare rules and cover all services that are approved through original Medicare with the exception of Hospice. Hospice would remain covered under original Medicare even if you are enrolled in a MA plan. Medicare Advantage plans can vary in monthly premium, charge different out-of-pocket costs, require referrals, and that services be done in network. You are required to continue paying your monthly Part B premium since MA plans are part of the Medicare program. In 2015, the average monthly premium for Part B is $104.90, but this figure can vary based on income.
Unlike original Medicare, MA plans can offer ancillary benefits such as hearing, vision, and dental. Part D (prescription) plans are usually grouped with MA plans. Please note that Medicare only allows you to have one Part D plan. This means that if you are initially enroll in a MA plan with Part D and then enroll in an individual Part D plan through Medicare, you will be dis-enrolled from your MA plan and placed back into original Medicare with individual Part D coverage.
There are many factors to take into consideration when deciding if a MA plan is right for you. These factors include: cost of monthly premiums, deductibles, copayments if your doctors are part of any networks that may be required, and if certain services require referrals. If you would like to learn more about plan is best for you visit www.medicare.gov.