Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago 2025

Exploring Medicare Advantage plans in Chicago? Understand your options swiftly with our focused guide on Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago. We uncover the essentials of Medicare Advantage – from plan types and unique benefits to costs and enrollment details – tailored for Chicago residents.


Key Takeaways


  • Enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans is subject to eligibility criteria, specific enrollment periods, and potential out-of-pocket costs, with the average Illinois monthly premium being $11.39 and out-of-pocket limits averaging $4,835 in-network.


  • Choosing the right Medicare Advantage plan in 2025 involves considering plan features such as medically necessary services coverage, prior authorization requirements, coverage for prescriptions, provider networks, and the plan’s Medicare star rating.

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Navigating Medicare Advantage Plan Options in Chicago


Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago 2025, Navigating Medicare Advantage Plan Options in Chicago


Medicare Advantage plans, often seen as the ‘all-in-one’ alternative to Original Medicare, are gaining popularity among Medicare beneficiaries in Illinois, with 25% of them choosing this option. These Illinois Medicare Advantage plans offer a bundled approach to health coverage, combining hospital, medical, and often even prescription drug coverage, all under one plan.

Private insurance companies offer the same benefits as Original Medicare, along with some additional perks. Bear in mind that these plans often necessitate that members receive care from a network of providers, potentially limiting flexibility.

So, how does one navigate these plan options in the bustling city of Chicago? Let’s start by decoding the types of plans available.


Decoding the Plan Types

If you’ve ever found yourself tangled in the web of health insurance jargon, you’re not alone. Two terms you’ll often come across when exploring Medicare Advantage plans are HMO (Health Maintenance Organization) and PPO (Preferred Provider Organization).

These are the two common types of plans that Illinois residents can select from, each with its own distinctive characteristics.

HMO plans typically require members to receive care from a network of local healthcare providers and facilities. This means that if you opt for an HMO plan, you’ll need to get a referral from your primary care physician before seeing a specialist.

Contrarily, PPO plans offer greater freedom in choosing healthcare providers, permitting care outside the plan’s network. Moreover, PPO plans to eliminate the need for a referral to see a specialist. Despite the increased flexibility, remember that PPO plans might carry higher monthly premiums.


Coverage Beyond Original Medicare


Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago 2025, Navigating Medicare Advantage Plan Options in Chicago


One of the appealing features of Medicare Advantage plans is their ability to offer coverage beyond Original Medicare. Many Medicare Advantage plans include prescription drug coverage, providing a convenient, combined package of hospital, medical, and prescription drug coverage. But the benefits don’t stop there.

Medicare Advantage plans in Illinois often provide supplemental benefits like dental, vision, and fitness programs. These benefits can significantly enhance the overall value of the plan, though they do vary in coverage and cost-sharing terms.

In addition to these, some plans offer unique health-related benefits such as medically necessary transportation or mental health programs. They may even offer non-medical perks like healthy food credits or over-the-counter allowances.

In some cases, the benefits package may be customized for chronically ill enrollees, providing additional services tailored to manage specific conditions. These added benefits make Medicare Advantage plans a comprehensive solution for many beneficiaries in Chicago.


Enrollment Essentials

Before you start your Medicare Advantage journey, it’s crucial to grasp the basics of the enrollment process, including understanding Medicare advantage plan eligibility. To be eligible for a Medicare Advantage plan, you must be enrolled in Medicare Parts A and B.

This requirement extends to enrollee dependents. Medicare Advantage Plans are also available for individuals with End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), as well as seniors 65 and older and those with a qualifying disability.

When it comes to enrollment periods, there are three key periods to note: the Initial Coverage Election Period, the Annual Election Period (from October 15 to December 7), and the Open Enrollment Period (from January 1 to March 31).

Additionally, special enrollment periods are provided for certain life events, ensuring flexibility and convenience for all potential enrollees.

The Cost of Medicare Advantage Plans in the Windy City


Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago 2025, The Cost of Medicare Advantage Plans in the Windy City


Now that we’ve gained an understanding of Medicare Advantage plans and their benefits let’s explore the cost dimension. The cost of Medicare Advantage plans is complex, involving:

  • Premiums



  • Copays


  • Coinsurance


Grasping these different cost components is vital as they considerably impact the plan’s total cost for beneficiaries.

The average monthly premium for Medicare Advantage plans in Illinois in 2024 was $11.95. This makes it an affordable option for many people seeking healthcare coverage.

This figure may appear simple, yet it’s noteworthy that the premium can significantly fluctuate, with some plans in Chicago starting as low as $0 while others charge higher monthly premiums. Similarly, the deductibles can also vary significantly, further affecting the overall cost of the plan.

Finally, considering potential out-of-pocket costs is essential as they’re a significant factor in your healthcare coverage’s total expense. In the coming sections, we’ll delve deeper into these cost components to provide you with a comprehensive understanding.


Understanding Premium Variations

When it comes to premiums, there’s more than meets the eye. While all Illinois residents have access to Medicare Advantage Plans, some of which have a $0 monthly premium, the price tag can vary significantly. This variation is largely due to the additional benefits offered by each plan.

Medicare Advantage Plans offer the same basic coverage as Original Medicare, but most Medicare Advantage plans with extra Medicare Advantage coverage may come with higher premiums.

These enhanced benefits may include prescription drug coverage, wellness programs, and even a newly introduced $35 insulin benefit cap. These additional benefits provide added value to plan members, but they come at a price.

Consequently, the average monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage Plan in Illinois decreased to $11.39 in 2023, reflecting not just the baseline coverage but also the extent of additional benefits offered.


Out-of-Pocket Expenses Explained

Out-of-pocket expenses are another crucial cost factor to consider when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan. In 2023, the out-of-pocket limit for Medicare Advantage plans in Illinois was legislatively set at $8,300 for in-network services, with an increased amount to $8,850 for 2024.

For Medicare Advantage enrollees in Illinois, the average out-of-pocket limit is $4,835 for in-network services, and for comprehensive coverage, including both in-network and out-of-network services, it averages at $8,659. However, it’s important to note that these averages can vary.

For example, HMO enrollees typically experience an average in-network out-of-pocket limit of $4,033, whereas for PPO enrollees, the averages are $8,605 for local services and $9,643 for regional services.

This difference in out-of-pocket expenses underscores the importance of understanding provider networks when selecting a plan, as Medicare Advantage plan members may incur lower out-of-pocket expenses when using in-network providers.

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Selecting the Best Medicare Advantage Plan for Your Needs in Chicago


Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago 2025, Selecting the Best Medicare Advantage Plan for Your Needs in Chicago


With a grasp of the different types of Medicare Advantage plans and their cost components, the next step is to understand how to choose the best plan for your needs.

This process involves several considerations, including analyzing plan features, checking provider networks, and taking into account the plan’s star rating. But how exactly do you go about this? Let’s start by analyzing the key features of Medicare Advantage plans.


Analyzing Plan Features

When selecting a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s crucial not to disregard the fine print. Medicare Advantage plans decide which services are considered medically necessary, and services not deemed necessary may not be covered.

Therefore, it’s crucial to understand this aspect when selecting a plan. Beneficiaries can request an organization’s determination to find out if a specific service, drug, or supply is covered under their plan.

Another essential feature to consider is prior authorization. Medicare Advantage plans may require enrollees to obtain prior authorization for services to be covered, a requirement typically not found in Original Medicare.

Lastly, it’s important to understand how the plan covers prescriptions. Prescription drug coverage under Medicare Advantage plans is organized by formularies, where drugs are divided into tiers with varying costs. Understanding these features can help you align the coverage with your personal healthcare needs.


Checking Provider Networks


Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago 2025


The provider network is another vital factor when choosing a Medicare Advantage plan. Using network providers under a Medicare Advantage plan can lead to cost savings by reducing out-of-pocket expenses and ensuring coordinated care.

Therefore, before selecting a Medicare Advantage plan, it’s crucial to assess the provider network to ensure your preferred doctors and hospitals are included, as the network scope may vary across plans.

In certain cases, when the plan directs care to an out-of-network provider without prior organization determination, the cost-sharing should not exceed the plan’s standard rates.

In the Chicago area, the Blue Cross Group Medicare Advantage Open Access (PPO) plan offers the flexibility of seeing out-of-network providers who accept Medicare assignment and agree to bill BCBSIL.

To facilitate the evaluation of plan networks, the Plan Finder tool provides a resource for individuals to search and compare Medicare Advantage plans by ZIP code.


Considering Star Ratings

Lastly, considering the plan’s star rating is crucial when selecting a Medicare Advantage plan. Assigned by Medicare, these ratings range from 1 to 5, with 5 stars indicating the highest quality performance. The star ratings encompass several factors, including:

  • Preventive care


  • Chronic care management


  • Customer service


  • Complaint handling


  • Part D coverage


  • Member satisfaction


Therefore, when comparing plans with similar costs and coverage, a higher star rating signifies a plan that provides a more satisfactory member experience and higher overall quality.

Localized Support for Chicago’s Medicare Beneficiaries

Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago 2025

Choosing a Medicare Advantage plan is a significant decision, and it’s comforting to know that support is available at a local level.

In Chicago, a variety of resources are available to assist Medicare beneficiaries in understanding their options and making informed decisions. Some of these resources include:

  • Free insurance counseling


  • Community events


  • Local workshops and seminars


  • Medicare education programs


With these resources, Chicago residents can access the support they need to navigate the Medicare Advantage plan selection process, including finding the right Medicaid services.


In-Person Assistance Opportunities

If you prefer face-to-face assistance, several in-person mental health services and resources are available in Chicago. Regional Senior Centers provide free in-person counseling for seniors seeking help with Medicare changes and options, facilitated by volunteer SHIP counselors.

These counseling sessions are available at multiple locations across Chicago, including the Central West Regional Center and Renaissance Court, among other regional centers.

Apart from these, licensed brokers, like those from TMB Broker Agency, offer public educational seminars to help Chicago residents understand their Medicare options, especially during enrollment periods.

Additionally, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois hosts Member Advisory Board meetings and establishes Blue Door Neighborhood Centers, providing Medicare plan information to members and the broader community.


Online Tools and Resources

While in-person assistance offers a personal touch, online tools and resources offer convenience and accessibility. However, due to the lack of specific source facts, we cannot provide details about these online tools and resources for comparing Medicare Advantage plans.

Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that these tools can be extremely helpful in understanding and comparing different Medicare Advantage plans.

Special Features of Chicago’s Medicare Advantage Landscape


Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago 2025, Special Features of Chicago's Medicare Advantage Landscape


Beyond the basic elements of Medicare Advantage plans, Chicago’s Medicare Advantage landscape boasts several unique features. These include exclusive regional plans, community health initiatives, and partnerships for enhanced healthcare access and coordination.

Let’s examine these unique features in more detail.


Exclusive Regional Plans

In a city as diverse as Chicago, it’s no surprise that there are Medicare Advantage plans tailored specifically to the needs and preferences of local residents. For instance, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois offer exclusive Medicare Advantage plans to Chicago residents.

These plans are available in specific counties throughout the state, catering to the unique healthcare needs of the local community.

Among these exclusive plans are group Medicare plans such as Blue Cross Group Medicare Advantage (PPO)℠, Blue Cross Group Medicare Advantage Open Access (PPO)℠, and Blue Cross Group MedicareRx (PDP)SM.

These plans are geared towards retirees and maintain a network of participating providers, ensuring plan members can access a range of healthcare services within this network. These regional plans offer a localized solution, providing comprehensive coverage tailored to the needs of the local populace.


Community Health Initiatives

Community health initiatives are another unique feature of Chicago’s Medicare Advantage landscape. Twenty Medicare Advantage Plans in Illinois incorporate these initiatives into their offerings, enhancing the value of the plans by focusing on improved health outcomes and affordable care.

These initiatives include wellness and health care planning, reduced cost-sharing, and rewards and incentives programs – all contributing to a community-oriented approach to health and wellness.

Preparing for Medicare Advantage Enrollment in Chicago


Medicare Advantage Plans Chicago 2025


As we near the conclusion of our guide, let’s spotlight the preparation for Medicare Advantage enrollment in Chicago.

This preparation involves reviewing your current health insurance coverage, gathering necessary personal documentation, and understanding the enrollment timeline.

These steps will help ensure a smooth Medicare enrollment process when you’re ready to choose a Medicare Advantage plan.


Timeline for Enrollment

Understanding the timeline for enrollment is key to avoiding last-minute stress and ensuring you have ample time to consider your options. Every year, the federal Medicare enrollment period starts on October 15th and ends on December 7th.

This is the time when individuals can:

  • Review and make changes to their Medicare coverage


  • Review their healthcare needs


  • Compare plans


  • Make informed decisions


This period is a crucial time to review your healthcare needs, compare plans, and make informed decisions.

But what if you miss this window? Don’t worry – Medicare has you covered. Medicare allows individuals to switch to 5-star plans outside the Annual Enrollment Period, providing a unique special enrollment option.

And here’s another important tip: Star ratings are released every fall, usually in October, and are applicable for the following calendar year.

This information can be a useful tool in your decision-making process, so be sure to keep an eye out for these ratings when exploring your Medicare Advantage options.


Documents and Information Needed

When you’re prepared to enroll, it’s essential to have the required documents and information readily available. You will need to complete an enrollment form fully during the enrollment period.

Furthermore, when enrolling in federal Medicare, it is necessary to provide a residential street address, even if you usually use a post office box for mail. So, be sure to gather these documents and information in advance to ease your enrollment process.

Here are the documents and information you will need:

  • Completed enrollment form


  • Residential street address


  • Social Security number


  • Date of birth


  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal residency


  • Proof of income


  • Proof of any other insurance coverage


Having these documents and information ready will ensure a smooth and efficient enrollment process.


As we wrap up our comprehensive guide, let’s take a moment to revisit the key points. We’ve explored the world of Medicare Advantage plans, understanding their advantages and trade-offs, as well as the different costs involved.

We’ve delved into the specifics of HMO and PPO plans, the additional benefits offered, and the essentials of the enrollment process. We’ve also guided you through the process of selecting the best plan for your needs, taking into consideration plan features, provider networks, and star ratings.

But beyond the general features of Medicare Advantage plans, we’ve localized our guide to focus on Chicago, highlighting the exclusive regional plans and community health initiatives that make the city’s Medicare Advantage landscape unique.

We hope this guide has provided you with the insights and tools you need to navigate your Medicare Advantage options in Chicago confidently. With this knowledge, you’re now well-equipped to make an informed decision that aligns with your healthcare needs and preferences.


Frequently Asked Questions


→  What are the pitfalls of a Medicare Advantage plan?

Medicare Advantage plans can be limiting, as they restrict the network of doctors and hospitals. Going out of network may result in higher costs or even no coverage, particularly when receiving care out of state.

It’s important to carefully consider these limitations before choosing a plan.


  What are 4 types of Medicare Advantage plans?

Medicare Advantage plans come in four main types: Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs), Private Fee-for-Service Plans, and Special Needs Plans. Each type has its own set of rules and benefits.


→  How much does a Medicare Advantage plan cost in Illinois?

In Illinois, the average monthly premium for a Medicare Advantage plan is around $11.39, with the potential for a $0 monthly premium if enrolled in Medicare Part A and B.

In 2025, the average premium is $11.95, and there are 158 plans available.


  What is the most highly rated Medicare Advantage plan?

The most highly rated Medicare Advantage plans include UnitedHealthcare for network size, Aetna for extra perks, Blue Cross Blue Shield for local support, and Humana for low-cost plan availability.

UnitedHealthcare’s AARP plan is particularly well-regarded for its high star ratings, a broad array of options, and large provider network.


 What are some additional benefits offered by Medicare Advantage plans in Chicago?

Many Medicare Advantage plans in Chicago offer additional benefits such as prescription drug coverage, wellness programs, dental and vision care, and unique perks like healthy food credits or over-the-counter allowances, in addition to the standard benefits of Original Medicare.

This allows for a more comprehensive coverage and potential cost savings for beneficiaries.

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Speak with a licensed insurance agent

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Russell Noga
( Medicare Expert )

Russell Noga is the CEO of ZRN Health & Financial Services, and head content editor of several Medicare insurance online publications. He has over 15 years of experience as a licensed Medicare insurance broker helping Medicare beneficiaries learn about Medicare, Medicare Advantage Plans, Medigap insurance, and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans.