One of the biggest selling points that Medicare Advantage Plans have is their low cost. The federal government still subsidies these plans and has a new strategy that makes certain ones more attractively priced. They are now rated on a five-star scale and a high rating means more federal funding. That, in turn, means premiums can be low because the insurance company is earning more federal money on the plan.
Medicare Advantage Plans See A Decrease In Premiums
Medicare Advantage Plans are expected to be less expensive in 2012. A four-percent drop in cost, averaging $32 a month, is being projected? That's pretty remarkable considering that certain of these policies already cost $0 above the price of Medicare Part B premiums.
In 2012, Medicare Part B premiums will only rise by $3.50 for the majority of beneficiaries. This is the first time in three years, though, that Medicare beneficiaries have had any increase in those premiums.
For beneficiaries who spend enough in out-of-pocket costs to meet the Part B deductible, there will be some savings. The $162 deductible is being reduced to $140 for 2012. Beneficiaries don't need to meet the deductible before a long list of preventive health care services will be covered, either. These preventive services are age specific so living longer may actually entitle you to more covered health care.
Medicare Advantage Plans Are Expected To See Growth In Membership
Only about 25 percent of those eligible for Medicare currently get benefits through one of the Medicare Advantage Plans. However, with the decrease in premiums, private insurance companies are expecting to see an increase in the number of enrollees in 2012.
The other big selling point that Advantage plans have is low cost combined with expanded coverage. The plans are required to provide all of the traditional Medicare benefits by law, but most plans add on extra value. They typically pay benefits for dental services, help with hearing aids and offer some coverage for vision care.
In addition, there's another reason to choose an Advantage plan. They offer guaranteed acceptance for all pre-existing health conditions except End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD).
With these benefits, it's hard to understand why more Medicare beneficiaries aren't exploring this option. It could give them additional coverage for the same price they are already paying.
Medicare Advantage Plans Vary In Availability
Certain areas of the country, like urban settings, may have a choice of two dozen MA Plans, but no Advantage plans are available in some parts of the nation. If you're fortunate enough to have several options where you live, be sure to compare both coverage and cost.
MA Plans come from private insurance companies, which set their own rules within the range that Medicare allows. To ensure that you will get your money's worth, be sure you read how the coverage is provided. For instance, Advantage plans set up their own separate networks of providers and don't pay for non-emergency care provided by those outside of that network. That makes it essential to check the list of doctors and see whether your doctor is considered to be in-network.
Medications are another important issue. Unlike traditional Medicare, Advantage plans do cover medications, but not every prescription may be eligible. Compare your list of medicines with the plan's coverage.
The last consideration deals with timing. When you're first eligible to enroll in Medicare, you have the option of signing up for an Advantage plan instead. After that period passes, you can only join an Advantage plan between October 15 and December 7. If you find you prefer traditional Medicare, you can switch back between January 1 and February 14 of the next year. If you decide to keep your MA plan, the coverage will be effective by January 1.