Medicare Advantage Plans Good

Are Medicare Advantage Plans Good?

You’ve worked hard saving for retirement. Now it’s time to make smart healthcare coverage decisions to protect your nest egg and wellbeing. When initially enrolling in Medicare, one key evaluation involves assessing Original Medicare versus Medicare Advantage. While ads tout Medicare Advantage perks like $0 premiums and extra benefits, are the plans right for you?

This article provides an in-depth examination of Medicare Advantage Plan pros, cons, costs, provider choice limitations and more. Read on for a comprehensive guide outlining key questions to ask so you can determine if a Medicare Advantage policy meets your situation.

Medicare Advantage Plan 101

Before assessing if Medicare Advantage works for your needs, let’s review some Advantage Plan fundamentals:

  • What is it? Medicare Advantage represents private insurance plans that bundle Part A, Part B, and usually Part D coverage together in one policy.
  • Other Names? You may see Medicare Advantage Plans referred to as MA Plans or Medicare Part C plans.
  • Who Offers Plans? Private insurance companies like Aetna, Humana, and UnitedHealthcare create and administer Medicare Advantage Plans.
  • Do I Still Have Medicare? Yes! Medicare Advantage Plans take the place of Original Medicare but you still have Medicare.

Now that you understand Medicare Advantage basics, let’s weigh the pros and cons.

Evaluating Medicare Advantage Pros

Medicare Advantage Plans offer several potential advantages:

  • Lower Premiums – Many Medicare Advantage Plans have $0 monthly premiums beyond the Part B premium. This contrasts with Medigap Plans that supplement Original Medicare, which have premiums starting around $100 per month.
  • Extra Benefits – Most Medicare Advantage Plans include additional coverage for vision, dental, hearing, fitness memberships, transportation, meal delivery, and more.
  • Out-of-Pocket Limits – Private insurers can establish annual limits on your costs for Part A and Part B services. Original Medicare does not have an out-of-pocket maximum.

At first glance, those perks likely entice you. But remember, several trade-offs exist too.

Cons of Medicare Advantage Plan

Before getting swayed by an Advantage Plan’s lower costs and bonus benefits, consider these drawbacks:

  • Provider Networks – Most Medicare Advantage Plans have approved doctor/facility networks. This limits your access to providers compared to Original Medicare’s open access approach. See any MD who accepts Medicare across all 50 states.
  • Referrals for Specialists – To see specialists in many Medicare Advantage Plans, you need referrals from your primary doctor first. No referrals necessary with Original Medicare.
  • Pre-Authorization for Care – Medicare Advantage often requires pre-approvals for procedures/testing/specialist visits. Original Medicare has fewer care delays.
  • Changing Plans – Ability to switch Medicare Advantage Plans exists at open enrollment only unless special circumstances.
  • Travel Coverage – Emergent and urgent care access while traveling differs greatly versus Original Medicare.

As shown above, Medicare Advantage brings both advantages AND compromises. What works for your friend that raves about Medicare Advantage may not suit your specific healthcare priorities.

Assessing Your Healthcare Priorities

Rather than get swayed by an Advantage Plan’s lower costs alone, pause to reflect on your healthcare needs and preferences:

Your Healthcare Priorities Worksheet

Access to specific doctors/hospitals[ ] Must keep current providers [ ] Okay with some new providers[ ] Yes [ ] No
Budget predictability[ ] Low monthly costs important [ ] Willing to pay more for less out-of-pocket[ ] Yes [ ] No
Dental/vision/hearing benefits[ ] Nice perk but not essential [ ] Important to have these covered[ ] Yes [ ] No
Gym membership[ ] Would not use [ ] Would take advantage of perk[ ] Yes [ ] No
Meal delivery subsidies[ ] Would not use [ ] Would take advantage of perk[ ] Yes [ ] No
Travel coverage[ ] Rarely leave service area [ ] Frequent extended travels[ ] Yes [ ] No

Determining which benefits impact your long-term care and quality of life requires reflection about your health, budget, and retirement dreams. What matters most to YOU?

Matching Coverage to Your Situation

While a $0 premium with bonus benefits elicits excitement, the wisest Medicare enrollment decision stems from alignment with your healthcare priorities.

On the surface, a Medicare Advantage Plan with no monthly cost and dental coverage seems perfect. But if your longtime doctor doesn’t participate in the insurer’s network, sudden access loss to trusted care looms large.

Or an Advantage policy with built-in meal delivery and transportation perks infatuates on paper. But upon falling ill while traveling, you discover urgent care while out of area proves nightmarishly complex.

Educating yourself about plan specifics takes time and diligence but prevents future frustration. Rather than make choices lightly, question each component against your health profile. Document how Medicare Advantage would realistically work given your lifestyle and wellness needs. Keep your worksheet handy!

Expert Guidance Provides Clarity

Thankfully, free, unbiased support exists to answer your Medicare questions. Speaking with one of these resources sheds light on Advantage Plan differences in your local area:

  • State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP)
  • Plan Finder Tool
  • Social Security Office
  •’s Customer Service Center

Discussing concerns about provider networks, referrals, drug coverage, and travel reimbursement with a Medicare expert separates hype from reality. They guide you through nuanced considerations overlooked when first evaluating plans.

Doing Your Homework is Key

Selecting a Medicare Advantage Plan means signing a legal contract committing you to the insurer’s coverage terms for a full plan year. Research thoroughly before binding yourself to an agreement which could greatly restrict doctor choice and care access!

While no one can predict exactly what next year holds health-wise, you control how to prepare through proper coverage. Weigh both the pros and cons of Medicare Advantage against your specific needs. Align the policy intricacies closely with your priorities before determining if the offer suits YOUR situation.

Getting this right and choosing wisely empowers confident healthcare decision-making now and through retirement. You’ve got this!

We’re Here to Help

You do not have to spend hours reading articles on the internet to get answers to your Medicare questions. Give Scott Sims at Sims Insurance Medicare Plans a Call at (541) 915-0939. You will get the answers you seek in a matter of minutes, with no pressure and no sales pitch. We are truly here to help.


What is the best Medicare Advantage Plan for me to choose from?

 The “best” Medicare Advantage Plan may vary based upon a number of factors such as your health needs, budget, and the area where you live. It’s crucial to research all available plans and check what they cover, their out-of-pocket costs, and if they meet your specific medical requirements. Make sure you keep yourself updated with the changes in Medicare Advantage Plans in 2024.

Are there any out-of-pocket costs I should be aware of when signing up for a Medicare Advantage Plan?

Yes, this is one of the cons of Medicare Advantage Plans. These plans may offer or require you to pay for some out-of-pocket costs, which may include copayments, coinsurance, and deductibles. It’s important to consider these costs when choosing the right Medicare Advantage Plan for you.

Does a Medicare Advantage Plan cover parts A and B of Original Medicare?

 Yes. In fact, this is one of the pros of a Medicare Advantage Plan. These types of Medicare Plans cover all Medicare services, which includes the benefits offered by Medicare Parts A and B, commonly known as Original Medicare coverage.

How can I sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan?

 To sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan, you need to first to sign up for Medicare Parts A and B. You can then sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan during the designated enrollment periods. Do remember, that plans are offered by different private companies, so you might want to compare before you decide which one to sign up for.

What is the difference between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage?

 Original Medicare includes Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance). On the other hand, Medicare Advantage, also known as Medicare Part C, provides all services covered under Parts A and B and usually includes additional benefits like prescription drug plan (Part D Plan) and often other services not covered by Original Medicare.

Is a drug plan covered in the Medicare Advantage Plan?

 Yes, most Medicare Advantage Plans include prescription drug coverage, also known as a Part D Plan. This is another compelling reason for many individuals to choose a Medicare Advantage Plan instead of the traditional Medicare.

What type of additional services can a Medicare Advantage Plan cover?

 Aside from covering all Medicare services from parts A and B, a Medicare Advantage Plan may also cover additional services such as vision, hearing, dental, and other health and wellness programs. Do note, these additional services might vary from plan to plan as plans are offered by private companies.

Can I switch my Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan?

 Yes, you can switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan during certain enrollment periods. However, it’s important to consider all the pros and cons of both types of coverage before making the decision to switch.

Can I supplement my Original Medicare Parts A and B with a Medigap Plan?

 Yes, you can buy a Medigap Plan, also known as Medicare Supplement Insurance, to help pay for some of the health care costs that Original Medicare doesn’t cover. However, if you’re thinking about this route, it’s important to note that you cannot have a Medigap Plan and a Medicare Advantage Plan at the same time.

Am I eligible for a Medicare Advantage Plan if I already have a Medigap Plan?

 No, if you have a Medigap Plan, or Medicare Supplement Insurance, it can’t be used to pay your Medicare Advantage Plan copayments, deductibles, and premiums. Even though you have the all-legal right to keep your Medigap policy if you switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan, it is often highly advised not to do so.