Do You Know What Medicare Advantage Is?Posted by Medicare Made Clear
Most people over age 60 do not know what Medicare Advantage is.* It is not surprising.
The term “Medicare Advantage” is a recent one. It arrived on the health care insurance scene in 2003. The concept existed before that. It started as Medicare+Choice.
Medicare Advantage is private health insurance through Medicare. Medicare Part C is another name for it. Medicare pays a set amount to private companies for each person they insure.
Medicare Advantage Means More Plan Choices
Congress created Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, to give beneficiaries more choices. You may have several Medicare Advantage plans to choose from. Plans vary by company and geographic region. You need to find out what plans are available where you live.
You can also choose to get your coverage through Original Medicare. The federal government administers Original Medicare. It includes Part A and Part B. Part A is hospital coverage. Part B is medical coverage.
Coverage is the Same as Original Medicare…Plus
Medicare Advantage plans provide the same coverage that Original Medicare Parts A and B provide. Most plans also include prescription drug coverage and other extras that Original Medicare does not cover.
Medicare prescription drug coverage is Medicare Part D. You can only get it through private insurance companies. If you have Original Medicare, you can choose to buy a separate Part D prescription drug plan. You can also add drug coverage to a few types of Medicare Advantage plans that don’t already include it.
You Must Still Enroll in Medicare
You need to enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B before you can join a Medicare Advantage plan. You remain enrolled in Medicare even after you join a private plan. You also continue to pay the Part B premium to Medicare. Some Medicare Advantage plans charge an additional premium and some don’t.
Get the Right Coverage for You
It’s a good idea to review your Medicare coverage every year. Sometimes health or other life changes can change what you need from your plan.
You have choices. The Medicare Open Enrollment Period for 2013 is October 15 to December 7, 2012. During this time, you can:
Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan.
Change from a Medicare Advantage plan back to Original Medicare.
Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to a different Medicare Advantage plan.
Join a Medicare prescription drug plan, or switch to a different Medicare prescription drug plan.
Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.
For more information, contact the Medicare helpline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227), TTY 1-877-486-2048. If you have questions about Medicare Made Clear, call 1-877-619-5582, TTY 711, 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. local time, seven days a week.
*Source: 2011 survey, UnitedHealthcare and the National Council on Aging
Decide How to Get Your Medicare: Explains the two ways to get Medicare, at Medicare.gov
Medicare Coverage Examples: See how four people with different needs decided which plans were right for them, at MedicareMadeClear.com
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