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What is a
Medicare
Advantage Plan
(Part C)?

Medicare Advantage Plans, sometimes called “Part C” or “MA Plans,” are offered by private insurance companies approved by Medicare. Medicare pays these companies to cover your Medicare benefits.

If you join a Medicare Advantage Plan, the plan will provide all of your Medicare Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) coverage.

Medicare Advantage Plans must cover all of the services that Original Medicare covers except hospice care. Original Medicare covers hospice care even if you’re in a Medicare Advantage Plan. In all types of Medicare Advantage Plans, you’re always covered for emergency and urgent care. Many Medicare Advantage Plans also offer extra benefits such as dental care, vision care, and/or wellness programs.

For many people, Medicare Advantage plans have good advantages. Various insurance carriers offer lower premiums, smaller copays, and lower deductibles than Original Medicare plans. And many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug benefits (Medicare Part D) under the same plan. Also known as Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans, these plans give you the convenience of having your Medicare Part A, Part B, and Part D coverage through a single plan.

There are four different types of Medicare Advantage Plans; the more common include Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), Private Fee-For-Service (PFFS) plans, and Special Needs Plans (SNPs). Other options include HMO Point-of-Service (HMO POS) and Medical Savings Account (MSA) plans. Each Medicare Advantage plan offers plan-specific benefits. It’s important to compare plan benefits to find out which one is right for your needs.

You must have Medicare Parts A and B and live in the plan’s service area to be eligible to join. People with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure) generally can’t join a Medicare Advantage Plan.

How much do Medicare Advantage Plans cost?

Each Medicare Advantage Plan has different premiums and costs for services. It’s important to compare plan costs and benefits before enrolling. With a Medicare Advantage Plan you must continue to pay your Medicare Part B premium, in addition to any premium for a Medicare Advantage plan. Why? You are still enrolled in, and part of, the Medicare program, you’re just choosing to get your coverage through a contracted Medicare health plan.

Several insurance companies and service areas may offer Medicare Advantage plans with premiums as low as $0; however, you still need to pay your Medicare Part B premium.