Navigating the world of Medicare Advantage plans can feel like a crazy journey.
With so many options and factors to consider, it’s crucial to arm yourself with the right information to make the best decision for your healthcare needs.
In this article, we’ll guide you through how to compare Medicare Advantage plans side by side in 2024, understand different plan types, and evaluate costs and additional benefits, so you can confidently choose the right plan for your unique situation.
The top Medicare Advantage companies for 2024, as determined by Forbes Health’s editorial team, are:
These providers stand out in terms of reputation and member satisfaction, offering a wide range of plan options to suit various needs.
UnitedHealthcare is the biggest provider of Medicare Advantage coverage among all companies.
It has more than 1 million network care providers. Their Medicare Advantage HMO plans are available in 49 states and Washington, D.C., giving them a wide geographic reach. UnitedHealthcare collaborates with AARP, providing assurance for the Medicare products that bear the AARP name.
Although their Medicare Advantage plans have an average customer satisfaction rating of 3.87 stars out of 5, the vast network and AARP partnership make UnitedHealthcare an appealing option for many.
Aetna, a CVS Health company, offers a range of benefits for their Medicare Advantage members, such as dental and vision coverage, in-home health visits, and meal delivery after hospitalization.
With a member experience score of 3.79, Aetna’s plans are above average and may also help reduce Medicare Part B premium costs for eligible members.
Additional benefits of Aetna’s plans include:
These benefits make Aetna’s plans an attractive choice for those looking for comprehensive coverage.
Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) is a collective of 33 distinct companies, many of which are geographically specific, providing advantages tailored to local members. With a member experience rating of 3.39, BCBS is above average in terms of satisfaction.
Their best Medicare Advantage plans include medical, prescription drug, dental, vision, and hearing Medicare benefits all in one plan.
With many Medicare Advantage plans available, these geographically specific plans offer local members benefits such as increased network access, improved quality of care, decreased total costs, and enhanced support.
Additionally, a Medicare supplement plan can be considered for those seeking extra coverage.
Humana’s $0-premium Medicare Advantage plans offer coverage for medical, vision, dental, and hearing care, making them an attractive option for those seeking affordable yet comprehensive coverage.
Highmark, though available only in four states, has garnered high ratings and achieved high levels of satisfaction among its members.
Their Medicare Advantage plans have high Medicare star ratings and high member experience scores, as reported by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Highmark offers a selection of Medicare Advantage plans, including HMO, PPO, and HMO-POS plans.
If you reside in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, or Delaware, Highmark is worth considering for its highly-rated plans and member satisfaction.
There are different types of Medicare Advantage plans.
These are the most common plans offered by several different insurance companies.
We can help you find the right plan to fit your needs, so if this already seems overwhelming don’t worry!
HMO plans are characterized by their strict physician networks and requirement for referrals to see specialists.
These plans focus on managed care and generally necessitate the utilization of providers and facilities within the plan’s network, except in cases of emergency.
HMO plans provide comprehensive coverage and additional benefits such as prescription drug coverage, making them a popular choice for those seeking a cost-effective option.
PPO plans offer more flexibility in choosing healthcare providers and do not require referrals to see specialists.
However, out-of-network care typically comes with higher out-of-pocket costs.
PPO plans are ideal for those willing to pay a little extra for the freedom to choose their doctors and specialists, without the restrictions of an HMO plan.
PFFS plans grant members the flexibility to see any Medicare-approved provider, as long as they accept the plan’s terms and conditions.
The downside is that not all providers accept PFFS plans, which may limit your choices when seeking care.
PFFS plans are suitable for those who prioritize flexibility in choosing providers but are willing to accept the potential limitations in provider acceptance.
SNP plans to cater to specific groups of people, such as those with chronic conditions or those who are dual-eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. These plans offer additional support and care coordination to assist individuals in managing their chronic conditions effectively. SNP plans are an excellent option for those who require specialized care and support tailored to their unique healthcare needs.
You may qualify for one of these plans for conditions such as:
It is necessary to contrast the costs between Medicare Advantage and Medigap plans when considering your options.
The decision may be influenced by factors such as location, anticipated healthcare costs, and personal preferences for financial risk exposure or risk protection.
While Medicare Advantage plans often have lower monthly premiums, they may come with higher copayments or coinsurances when utilizing a doctor, hospital, or health services.
On the other hand, Medigap policies provide more flexibility in choosing healthcare providers but may have higher premiums.
One of the advantages of Medicare Advantage plans is the array of additional benefits they may offer. These can include:
When shopping for a plan, consider these extra features and weigh their importance to your specific healthcare needs. For example, if you require extensive dental work or vision coverage, it may be more advantageous to obtain a stand-alone policy or explore additional insurance coverage options.
Keep these additional benefits in mind as you compare plans and determine which one suits you best.
Choosing the apt Medicare Advantage plan necessitates a thorough evaluation of factors like coverage, costs, the network of providers, and extra benefits.
You should ascertain that your preferred healthcare providers are in the plan’s network, scrutinize the plan’s coverage and benefits, review your current medications, and study the plan’s star rating to make a well-considered decision.
By taking these factors into account, you can confidently choose a plan that aligns with your healthcare needs and preferences.
It is important to know the enrollment periods and deadlines when contemplating a Medicare Advantage plan. The initial enrollment period for signing up is when you first become eligible for Medicare.
The Medicare Advantage open enrollment period is an annual event. It runs from January 1 to March 31, during which you can:
Additionally, the annual enrollment period spans from October 15 to December 7, providing another opportunity to make changes to your plan.
Keep these deadlines in mind to ensure you don’t miss the opportunity to enroll in or adjust your Medicare Advantage plan.
It is important to analyze various options while shopping for Medicare Advantage plans to find the most suitable one. Utilize tools like the Medicare.gov comparison tool or the Medicare Plan Finder to contrast plan benefits, coverage, and costs. Consider checking star ratings, which provide a measure of the plan’s overall quality, to help guide your decision.
Additionally, keep your medication needs and preferred doctors in mind as you compare plans, ensuring the plan you choose aligns with your healthcare priorities.
Collaborating with a licensed insurance agent can significantly streamline the process of selecting the most suitable Medicare Advantage plan tailored to your needs.
These agents possess comprehensive knowledge of Medicare and the various plan options available, and can evaluate your specific healthcare needs to direct you in selecting a plan that best meets your requirements.
Licensed insurance agents have access to multiple plans from different insurance companies, allowing them to compare and present choices that align with your preferences and budget.
Collaborating with a licensed insurance agent can provide invaluable guidance and support as you navigate the complex world of Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplement options.
In conclusion, finding the best Medicare Advantage plan requires careful consideration of various factors, including provider networks, costs, coverage, and additional benefits.
By comparing top companies, understanding different plan types, and seeking guidance from licensed insurance agents, you can confidently choose a plan that aligns with your unique healthcare needs and preferences.
With the right plan in place, you can focus on what truly matters – maintaining your health and well-being.
Why are people leaving Medicare Advantage plans?
People often leave their Medicare Advantage plans due to network restrictions or lack of coverage for non-preventative services such as dental, vision, and hearing. These restrictions can result in high fees for out-of-network care, leaving many individuals looking for a better plan.
What is the tool to compare Medicare plans?
The Medicare Plan Finder on Medicare.gov is the best tool to compare Medicare plans. It provides information about costs, drugs included in the plan’s formulary, and the star rating of the plan. You can also use reviews to learn more about the best Medicare Advantage plans and their trade-offs.
When can I compare Medicare Part D plans for 2024?
You can compare and switch Medicare Part D plans during the Annual Open Enrollment Period from October 15, 2023, to December 7, 2023, and the Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period from January 1 to March 31, 2024.
What is the best Medicare plan that covers everything?
There is no “best” Medicare plan, as everyone’s situation is different. Medicare Advantage Plans may offer additional benefits beyond traditional Medicare.
Can I see any doctor with a Medicare Advantage plan?
Typically most people visit doctors within their Medicare Advantage plan network to help save them money. While some plans allow you to see providers outside of your network, the cost may be higher. Check with your plan to see.
ZRN Health & Financial Services, LLC, a Texas limited liability company
Russell Noga is the CEO of ZRN Health & Financial Services, an online Medicare Agency helping Medicare beneficiaries learn about Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans since 2009. Russell is licensed in all 50 states and has been featured as a keynote speaker, and author of several publications.