Medicare benefits are available to people who are above age 65 or below that age but diagnosed with a qualifying disability. The standard Medicare plan is called Original Medicare, but there is an alternative Medicare option as well. Medicare Part C, or Medicare Advantage, plans are privately administered Medicare plans that eligible Medicare beneficiaries have the option to enroll in. This is what you need to know about Medicare Advantage plans.
What Is Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage plans are similar to Original Medicare plans, which consist of Part A hospital insurance and Part B medical insurance, except Medicare Advantage plans are a package deal that includes hospital, medical, and oftentimes, prescription drug coverage. With Original Medicare, you would need to enroll in each of these separately, but Medicare Advantage plans typically roll all of the benefits together under a single policy.
Medicare Advantage plans come in a greater variety than the standard Original Medicare packages. Each plan is administered by a private insurance company, rather than a government agency, therefore they have some flexibility as to what benefits they can include in their Medicare Advantage policies.
While companies that contract with Medicare are obligated to provide a minimum level of coverage that at least matches Original Medicare’s standard level of benefits, they do not have to limit their coverage to that level. Some plans are fit with unique benefits, such as dental, hearing, and vision perks. Others include medical transportation coverage or assistance with affordable meal delivery plans.
Medicare Advantage Benefits
Medicare Advantage plans offer, at a minimum, the same benefits as Original Medicare plans. That is, they cover all Medicare services at their base. If you are unsure of whether a service is covered, check with your provider before enrolling in a particular plan. You can expect your Advantage Plan to cover at least the following benefits:
- Medical insurance
- Doctor’s services
- Outpatient care
- Durable medical equipment
- Preventive health services
- Hospital Insurance
- Inpatient care in a hospital or skilled nursing facility
- Home health care or hospice care
Other benefits vary, although many Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for things that aren’t typically mentioned in Original Medicare. Wellness programs, transportation to doctor visits, adult day-care services, and other health promotion services are often featured in the policies.
Medicare Advantage Costs
Medicare Advantage plans come with varying costs. You will typically be required to pay your Part B premium every month, in addition to a monthly premium dictated by your Advantage plan. In most cases, you will also have coinsurance costs, deductibles, or other out-of-pocket costs that must be paid in addition to premiums.