Medicare Advantage Plans

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One of the nice compensations for growing older is qualifying for Medicare insurance when you turn age 65. However, there are a number of different ways to take advantage of this coverage. One of the ways that works best for many people is to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan, also known as Medicare Part C. Here is what you need to know about Medicare Advantage.

What are Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans?

Medicare Advantage (Part C) plans are health care plans that are offered by private companies approved by Medicare. If you opt for one of these plans, the benefits will include your Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) and Medicare Part B (medical insurance) as well as additional benefits, such as vision, hearing, dental and/or wellness programs. Most, but not all, Advantage programs include Medicare Part D (prescription drug) insurance.

The companies offering Advantage programs are paid a certain amount each month directly by Medicare. The annual premium is your responsibility.

Basic points about Medicare Advantage plans

  • They are offered through private companies, not Medicare. You must enroll in Medicare Parts A and B to be eligible.

  • These companies can set different out-of-pocket expenses and rules for coverage. These fees and rules can change each year.

  • Like other Medicare plans, you must be at least 65 years of age to qualify.

  • There are different types of Medicare Advantage plans, such as HMO and PPO plans.

  • In most cases, people with end-stage renal disease are not eligible for a Medicare Advantage plan.

How to sign up for a Medicare Advantage plan?

Medicare Advantage plans are offered by private insurance companies, not directly from Medicare. You can enroll by contacting the insurance company you choose directly during an open enrollment period. You can enroll when you first become eligible (no matter what time of year) or during the annual enrollment period that occurs from October 15 through December 7.

While a Medicare Advantage plan may not be the right choice for every American age 65 and older, these types of plans offer comprehensive Medicare coverage with additional benefits such as dental, vision and prescription drug coverage.