Advantages of Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage plans all offer the established Medicare Part A and B benefits, but are different in some respects, such as premium, out-of-pocket expenses, provider network, types of supplemental benefits and pharmacy benefits. You will also need to determine your medical needs and choose which Medicare Advantage plan is the best fit for you.
One advantage of having a Medicare Advantage plan is that the supplemental benefits and other benefits may be more in line with your needs. Some of these supplemental benefits may be gym membership, dental services Opens in new window and vision coverage.
Disadvantages of Medicare Advantage
Disadvantages are that you may be limited in which health care provider you can see, and while the Medicare Advantage plan must offer Medicare Part A and B, it could change the supplemental benefits it offers each year. Also, you must receive all non-emergency care within the Medicare Advantage plan’s services area and network. If you do not, you may have higher out-of-pocket expenses, or the coverage could even be denied. Additionally, a health insurer may choose to stop offering their MA plan in your location depending on their business needs. This is relatively rare and CMS notes that very few plans have stopped offering Medicare Advantage plans Opens in new window, but it is a possibility. If this were to happen with an MA plan in which you have enrolled, you would receive a notice and have the option to either choose another Medicare Advantage plan or go back to traditional Medicare.
How can I sign up for Medicare Advantage?
Visit Medicare's Plan Finder Opens in new window to learn about your options — as well as the costs associated with each. From there, you can go to each plan's website to learn more or enroll. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) for help.
Before you enroll, make sure you have your Medicare card. You'll need to provide your Medicare number and the date your Original Medicare coverage began.
And be sure to check your plan's drug coverage. If it doesn't offer drug coverage (such as with MSA plans), you'll need to enroll in Medicare Part D to get that benefit. But be careful to not double-up drug coverage: If you enroll in Medicare Part D with an HMO or PPO (which has drug coverage), you'll get removed from your MA plan and sent back to Original Medicare.