Medicare Advantage plans are a popular alternative to Original Medicare for many seniors who want more coverage and flexibility. But what exactly are Medicare Advantage plans and how do they work? In this article, we will explain the basics of Medicare Advantage plans, the benefits they offer, and the options you have to choose from.

What Are Medicare Advantage Plans?

Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C, are health insurance plans offered by private companies that contract with Medicare. They provide all the benefits of Original Medicare (Part A and Part B), plus additional benefits that vary by plan. Some of these benefits may include prescription drug coverage (Part D), dental, vision, and hearing care, wellness programs and fitness memberships, care coordination and chronic disease management, transportation to medical appointments, and over-the-counter items and meal delivery.Medicare Advantage Plan

Medicare Advantage plans also have different costs and rules than Original Medicare. For example, you may have to pay a monthly premium, a deductible, and copayments or coinsurance for your services. You may also have to use a network of providers that participate in your plan or pay more if you go out of network. You may need a referral from your primary care provider to see a specialist or prior authorization for certain services.

How To Choose A Medicare Advantage Plan?

There are many types of Medicare Advantage plans available, depending on where you live and what you need. Some of the most common ones are:

  1. Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) plans: These plans require you to use a network of providers and get referrals for specialists. They usually have lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs than other types of plans.
  2. Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) plans: These plans allow you to see any provider that accepts Medicare, but you may pay less if you use a network of preferred providers. They usually have higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs than HMO plans but offer more flexibility.
  3. Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS) plans: These plans let you see any provider that agrees to accept the plan’s terms and conditions. They may or may not have a network of providers. They usually have higher premiums and out-of-pocket costs than HMO and PPO plans but offer more freedom.
  4. Special Needs Plans (SNPs): These plans are designed for people who have certain chronic conditions, live in an institution, or qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid. They provide tailored benefits and care coordination to meet the specific needs of their members.
  5. Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans: These plans combine a high-deductible health plan with a savings account that you can use to pay for your health care expenses. Medicare deposits a certain amount of money into your account each year, which you can use tax-free for qualified medical expenses. You are responsible for paying the deductible before the plan covers any costs.

To compare and enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan, you can use the Medicare Plan Finder tool on the official Medicare website. You can also contact the plan directly or work with a licensed insurance agent or broker. You can enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan during certain enrollment periods, such as when you first become eligible for Medicare, during the annual open enrollment period from October 15 to December 7, or during a special enrollment period if you have a qualifying life event.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Medicare Advantage Plans?

Medicare Advantage plans have many advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before making a decision. Here are some of them:


  1. They offer more benefits than Original Medicare, such as prescription drug coverage and dental care.
  2. They may have lower premiums than Original Medicare plus a Medigap policy and a Part D plan.
  3. They may have lower out-of-pocket costs than Original Medicare for some services.
  4. They may providebetter care coordination and disease management for people with complex health needs.
  5. They may offer extra perks and incentives to encourage healthy behaviors.


  1. They may have higher out-of-pocket costs than Original Medicare for other services.
  2. They may limit your choice of providers and require prior authorization or referrals for some services.
  3. They may have different rules and restrictions than Original Medicare that can change from year to year.
  4. They may not cover you if you travel outside your service area or the country.
  5. They may not be compatible with other types of coverage, such as Medigap policies or employer-sponsored plans.

Putting It All Together

Medicare Advantage plans are an option for seniors who want more coverage and flexibility than Original Medicare. However, they also have different costs and rules that you should understand before enrolling. To find the best plan for your needs, compare the benefits, costs, networks, and quality ratings of different plans in your area. You can also consult with a trusted source, such as a Medicare counselor, an insurance agent, or a health care provider, for guidance and advice.

“What’s Medicare?
“Medicare Plan Compare.”
“Part A & Part B sign up periods.”
“What’s Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap)?” 

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