Compare Your Medicare Plan Options for the Best Health Coverage
Over 44 million Americans rely upon Medicare for health benefits, and that number’s expected to grow to 79 million by 2030. According to Medicare, most of these millions of beneficiaries either get their core benefits in one of two ways. These include Medicare Part A and Part B, often called Original Medicare, or a Medicare Advantage plan.
Of course, recipients usually also enhance Original Medicare benefits with a Medicare Supplement and a Medicare Part D prescription plan. If you’re new to Medicare or simply interested in finding a better way to maximize benefits, you can find the best option for your healthcare needs, budget, and lifestyle.
Your Medicare Plan Options
It’s helpful to start by comparing Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage.
Original Medicare Plan Options
Most Medicare beneficiaries qualify for both Part A and B:
- Part A: Sometimes called hospital insurance, this part of Original Medicare mostly focuses on covering inpatient stays. Most qualified recipients don’t have to pay for Part A.
- Part B: Referred to sometimes as medical insurance, Part B focuses upon such outpatient services as doctor visits, tests, and durable medical equipment. Most beneficiaries pay a 2021 Medicare Part B premium of $148.50.
Taken together, Original Medicare will give you very broad coverage for a variety of inpatient and outpatient services. At the same time, deductibles, coinsurance, and services Original Medicare won’t cover can leave some people with high out-of-pocket bills.
Some people may still have private health insurance from a job or retirement plan that can fill in these gaps; however, most Medicare beneficiaries who rely upon Original Medicare also opt for these to kinds of plans to enhance their benefits:
- Medicare supplements: Sometimes called Medigap plans, these policies help fill in the gaps for coinsurance and deductibles to reduce or even eliminate most out-of-pocket bills for covered expenses. Some may also offer benefits not covered by Original Medicare, like coverage for urgent healthcare needs outside the U.S. Like Original Medicare, most medical providers across the country accept Medicare supplements.
- Part D prescription plans: Neither Original Medicare nor Medicare supplements cover the sorts of prescriptions that you might get from a pharmacy. Adding a Part D plan will cover this gap. People who lack drug benefits and delay signing up for Part D may get penalized when they do enroll late. Of course, people without drug coverage must also pay the entire cost of typical prescriptions.
Medicare Advantage Plans
Sometimes called Medicare Part C, Medicare Advantage plans offer Medicare beneficiaries an alternative to Original Medicare. They provide the benefits of Medicare Part A, Medicare Part B, and typically, Part D prescription coverage. If the plan doesn’t have prescription benefits, the Medicare recipient will also need to join a stand-alone Part D plan.
These are some important things to know about Medicare Advantage plans:
- Medicare Advantage plans must offer plan members benefits that meet or exceed Original Medicare.
- Very often, these are network plans, making it either necessary or beneficial to visit network providers, though they will make exceptions for emergencies.
- Many Medicare Advantage plans also offer benefits Original Medicare doesn’t provide, such as hearing, dental, or vision coverage.
- Many Medicare Advantage plans do a good job of limiting out-of-pocket expenses.
Find the Best Medicare Options for Your Needs
Besides choosing the right Medicare plans, beneficiaries can also generally choose between a variety of insurers and plan types. The best option will typically depend upon your budget, healthcare needs, location, and preferences. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.