Medicare Advantage is popular for its money-saving qualities, but is it a good deal?

Getting medical insurance as a senior can be daunting and expensive. For some, Medicare Advantage is a low-cost choice for healthcare. Extra benefits like extended coverage and discounted fitness programs are great. 

Did you know that you can use the Insurify free Medicare comparison tool to find the right Medicare plan for you? Shop Medicare Advantage plans as low as $0/month—all you need is your ZIP to get started. Try now!

 

 

How Much Do Medicare Advantage Plans Cost?

Medicare Advantage premiums range from $0 a month to several hundred dollars a month. Co-payment rates also vary depending on the plan and healthcare service. Remember to consider the total cost of your plan options:

    • Monthly premiums
    • Deductibles
    • Co-payment schedule
    • Out-of-pocket cost maximums

Plans with the lowest monthly premiums do not necessarily make the overall least expensive plans, especially if they have a high out-of-pocket maximum limit. 

What Is the Average Monthly Cost of a Medicare Advantage Plan?

Nationally, the average cost of a Medicare Advantage plan’s monthly premium is $69.60. The average drug deductible is $265.38 a year. Remember that you pay Part C costs in addition to your Medicare Part B premium. Medicare Part A premiums are free for most beneficiaries.

Remember also that premiums and drug deductibles aren’t the only costs. You may also need to cover:

    • Coinsurance rates and co-pays
    • Costs for services not covered by insurance
    • Medical equipment

How much you pay depends on the specifics of your plan. 

Average Cost of Medicare Advantage by State

National averages are great to know, but you should also know the average costs for your state. Bear in mind that these averages include all plans, even ones that only offer minimum coverage. 

Are Medicare Advantage Plans a Good Deal?

The honest answer is that it depends. It depends on several factors, including:

    • The extent of coverage your plan affords you
    • Your medical needs
    • How often you need medical care
    • The out-of-pocket maximum (if applicable)

For some people (with some plans), Medicare Advantage is a good deal. This is especially true if the plan is offered at a competitive price and the plan includes:

    • Comprehensive coverage
    • Out-of-pocket limits
    • Easy-to-use technology
    • Well-rated customer service
    • A large provider network

But again, whether any plan is a good deal will depend on how well the plan works for you. 

What Is Medicare Advantage? 

Also called Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage is a health insurance program designed for Medicare beneficiaries. Medicare Advantage plans become the primary insurance for people who use them. In other words, when you sign up for a Part C plan, you’re essentially replacing Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B).

You may still rely on Original Medicare for certain costs, like nursing home care. But for the most part, Medicare Advantage becomes the only insurance you deal with on a day-to-day basis. These plans are administered by private insurance companies. That means you’ll need to work within your insurer’s network. 

Medicare Advantage plans come in a few forms:

    • Health maintenance organization (HMO)
    • Preferred provider organization (PPO)
    • Special needs plan (SNP)
    • Private fee-for-service plan (PFFS)
    • Medicare savings account (MSA)

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Medicare Advantage?

Medicare Advantage plans often offer you comprehensive coverage at a low cost. For example, many plans offer additional benefits that Original Medicare does not. Additional covered services can include:

    • Prescription drugs
    • Dental 
    • Vision
    • Hearing

You may also be able to access cost-saving programs like Silver Sneakers. Or you may receive discounts for your gym membership, massage therapy, and other preventive practices. Most importantly, many Medicare Advantage plans come with out-of-pocket limits. This helps protect enrollees from going bankrupt due to medical care. 

But it’s not all perfect. Medicare Advantage plans come with limited service areas. Unlike Original Medicare, where you can see any physician who accepts Medicare, Medicare Advantage requires you to work within your network and will extend only limited coverage for out-of-network care. And those out-of-pocket limits will not extend to any out-of-network care. 

Finally, Medicare Advantage plans are regulated by the federal government. While this ultimately protects you, it also means that your insurance company needs permission from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to offer plans. If your company loses its permission, you lose access to your plan. That means you’d need to find and sign up for a new Medicare Advantage plan on the fly. 

While rare, the risk of sudden disruption may not be worth it for some. 

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What Is the Best Medicare Advantage Plan?

The best Medicare Advantage plan ultimately depends on the person using it. Your medical needs, insurance preferences, and budget are the most important factors. If the best plan around doesn’t offer what you need, the plan won’t work well for you. So always put yourself first when choosing a plan.

That being said, there are several stand-out providers across the country:

    • Kaiser Permanente
    • UnitedHealthcare
    • Cigna 
    • Aetna
    • Humana
    • Blue Cross Blue Shield
    • Gunderson Health Systems

Most of these healthcare providers offer plans nationally, but Gunderson is local to the Midwest. We should also note that not all plans by these providers are created equal. Always be sure to review the specifics of any plan under your consideration. 

Best Medicare Advantage Plans by State

We’ve compiled guides to the best Medicare Advantage plans in each state. Please select your state to uncover which plans are best where you live. 

You can also enter your ZIP code into the Insurify Medicare comparison tool to uncover exactly which plans are available in your area. Filter by coverage options and even compare plans side by side. We make it as easy as possible to find the right plan for you fast. 

 

 

FAQ: Medicare Advantage Costs

Do I need Medicare Part D coverage if I have Medicare Advantage?

That depends on whether your MA plan includes prescription drug coverage. If it does, you cannot add another stand-alone Part D plan on top of it. If it doesn’t, you can add whatever prescription drug plan is best for you. 

Do Medicare Advantage plan premiums get deducted from Social Security benefits?

By default, premiums for Medicare Part C are not automatically deducted from Social Security benefits. However, you can choose to have them deducted automatically if you prefer. You’ll need to set up automatic payments through the insurance company fulfilling your health plan. It may take a few payment cycles before automatic payments kick in. 

When can I enroll in Medicare Advantage?

You can enroll as soon as you are eligible for Medicare, i.e., during your Initial Enrollment Period (IEP). After your IEP, you can enroll during the fall Open Enrollment Period from October 15 to December 7 every year. 

Can I use Medicaid with Medicare Advantage?.

Yes! Medicare and Medicaid work together in many ways. You can use Medicaid along with Medicare Advantage. Usually, this is done through a special needs plan (SNP) designed for people with low income. SNPs help keep your costs low. You can also consider using a Medicare Cost Plan. 

Can I use Medigap with Medicare Advantage?

No, you cannot use Medigap (Medicare Supplemental Insurance) with a Medicare Advantage plan. Medigap policies are designed to work in conjunction with Original Medicare. If you prefer to use Medigap, you can still compare plans with the Insurify Medicare comparison tool. Just enter your ZIP code. When you get to your results page, select “Medicare Supplement Insurance Plans.” 

Conclusion: Comparing Plans Saves You Time and Money

Whatever you decide is right for you, comparing plans before you buy is the best way to go. Taking that extra step helps you find the right plan with the right coverage at the right price. And in the end, the best Medicare plan is the one that’s right for you. 

Ready for Medicare to work for you? Use the Insurify Medicare comparison tool to explore Medicare Advantage plans. Start with your ZIP code, and you’ll be comparing options in less than two minutes. Try it today!

The Easy Way to Find Low-Cost Medicare Advantage Plans

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Updated April 12, 2021

J.J. Starr is a health and finance copywriter who enjoys helping readers find the information they need. In addition to her background in banking and financial advising, she is also a poet with an MFA from New York University. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. You can learn more at jjstarrwrites.com.