With open enrollment around the corner, it’s important to find out the best ways to pick out a Medicare Advantage plan. Medicare Advantage plans are an alternative to Original Medicare in that include other benefits like prescription drugs, dental, vision, and fitness benefits.
With Medicare Advantage plans, you sometimes have lower premiums and there is an annual out of pocket limit on how much you can spend each year. This amount varies with each plan, but cannot be more than $6,700. Also with Medicare Advantage, there is a network of providers that you have to stick with, and you don’t have as much freedom to visit any doctor like under Original Medicare.
5 Tips for Choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan
Here are 5 tips to follow when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan:
- Don’t choose based on what benefits the plan offers. The main things to look at are whether the plan covers the doctors and the prescription drugs that you need. You might really want a plan that gives you membership to a fitness club, but make sure to look at the medical essentials first so you’re not caught in a bind.
- If you already have a Medicare Advantage plan, check your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC). Your plan should send you this ANOC in the fall to let you know if anything is changing in your plan. Check it carefully (any major changes should be listed on the first few pages) so that you can make sure your needs are still covered. If anything major with drug or doctor coverage is changing, you should look at other plans that might be better for you.
- If you choose to go with Medicare Advantage, it is safe to have some other funds set aside for possible medical emergencies, since out of pocket costs can go up to $6,700 with these plans. If you don’t have extra medical savings, a Medigap plan with full coverage will be a good option for you. (Note: you can’t have a Medigap plan and a Medicare Advantage plan at the same time.)
- There’s no one size fits all Medicare Advantage plan that’s going to be great for everyone. Look around and see what options are best for you and your situation, especially regarding the doctors in the plan’s network.
- Check the Medicare Advantage plan’s star rating. Medicare gives each plan a star rating from 1 to 5. It’s best to choose a plan with a 3.5 or higher star rating. Plans with a 4 or 5 star rating receive extra funding from the government for your medical benefits.