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Medicare Annual Enrollment Period: 3 Reasons Why Medicare Advantage Plans Are So Popular

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is your opportunity to make sure you have the right healthcare coverage to meet your needs through the coming year. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) projects 24.4 million people will enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan for 2020—an all-time high. Curious as to why? Read on to find out three key factors driving record Medicare Advantage Plan enrollment.

Convenience

If you choose Original Medicare, you’ll have multiple “parts” to manage. Part A covers in-patient hospital care. Part B covers outpatient services, such as doctor appointments. Some Medicare beneficiaries also choose to get a Medicare Supplement, or Medigap, policy to help pay for expenses Original Medicare doesn’t cover, like copays, co-insurance, and deductibles. Vision, dental, and prescription drug coverage aren’t covered in any of these, so if you need these services, you’ll have to enroll in and manage individual plans for each benefit.

All Medicare Advantage Plans include Part A and Part B coverage, and many include vision, hearing, dental, fitness, and prescription drug coverage all in one convenient plan. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported 67 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees had dental benefits in 2019, 72 percent had fitness benefits, 78 percent had vision benefits, and 88 percent had prescription drug coverage. In addition to having all your coverage in one convenient plan, the typical Medicare beneficiary will have 28 Medicare Advantage Plan options to choose from during this year’s Medicare Annual Enrollment Period for coverage beginning 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Cost

Most Medicare beneficiaries don’t pay for Part A, and do pay a premium for Part B. Medicare Supplements typically require you to pay a monthly premium. If you need to enroll in plans for vision, dental, or prescription drug coverage, each of these typically comes with its own separate monthly premium, copays, and deductible. And, there are penalties for not enrolling in prescription drug coverage.

You’ll still have to pay your Part B premium if you enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan. However, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently reported the average monthly Medicare Advantage premium in 2020 will be the lowest it’s been in the past 13 years. And, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports 56 percent of Medicare Advantage Plan enrollees paid no premium in 2019. Some Medicare Advantage Plans also have out-of-pocket limits on annual spending, which Original Medicare doesn’t offer.

Coverage

Original Medicare focuses on providing care and services that are medically necessary and fall under the traditional healthcare umbrella. Based on new rulings, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are allowing Medicare Advantage providers to offer a broad range of supplemental benefits that, “have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function” of Medicare enrollees.” These benefits fall into two main categories—preventive care to help reduce costs, and non-medical benefits to help keep chronic conditions in check.

While it’s up to providers to choose which benefits they include in their Medicare Advantage Plans, during this year’s Medicare Annual Enrollment Period, you may find plans that include benefits such as in-home caregiver support, home-delivered meals, transportation for non-medical needs, shower grab bars, pest control, indoor air quality equipment, carpet cleaning, even minor home modifications like ramps or widening doorways.

Consider Medicare Advantage during the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period

Want to find Medicare Advantage Plans in your area? Our Medicare Advocates are here to help. Simply call us at 1-800-991-4407 / TTY 711 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, for no-cost, personalized advice. Rather compare plans online? Visit our Medicare Online Enrollment Portal to find, compare, and enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan on your own.