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What is Medicare Advantage Insurance?
Medicare Advantage insurance, also knowns as Medicare Part C, is an alternative to Original Medicare.
Medicare Advantage plans:
Belong to networks (HMOs/PPOs)
Can include Rx, dental and vision
Often have lower monthly premiums than Medigap
Think of Medicare Advantage as a substitute for Original Medicare. While Medicare Advantage plans are not standardized like Medigap plans, they are required to provide at least as much coverage as Original Medicare.
Prescription, Dental and Vision Coverage
Medicare does not cover dental, vision, or prescription drugs. If you enroll in Medicare and a Medicare Supplement policy, you'll want to find separate coverage for your dental/vision and prescription drug needs. Medicare Advantage plans, on the other hand, often do cover dental, vision, and prescription drugs.
The dental, vision and prescription drug coverage offered by Medicare Advantage plans can be a great cost-saving tool for those on a tight budget.
Medicare Advantage Plans Belong to Networks
Unlike Medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans belong to hospital/doctor networks. A Medicare Advantage plan will often resemble the coverage you had with your employer. You'll either be in an HMO or PPO, which will place limits on where you can receive coverage under the plan.
For this reason it is extremely important that you have your insurance agent confirm that your primary care physician and any other preferred doctors or hospitals accept your Medicare Advantage plan.
How Much Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cost?
Medicare Advantage plans often have much lower monthly premiums than Medigap plans. Keep in mind, however, that you are still required to pay your Part B premium.
While the monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan is often low (sometimes nothing beyond the Part B premium), the cost of medical services can be more expensive than with a Medicare Supplement plan. For example, with Medigap Plan F you have no out-of-pocket medical expenses. Medicare Advantage plans usually have co-pays and deductibles.
Each Medicare Advantage plan has a set out-of-pocket maximum. The max out-of-pocket can range quite a bit depending on the plan, but typically is between $1,500 and $6,700 per year. Once you've spent the annual max out-of-pocket, any additional medical services for that year cost you nothing.