If you’re unsatisfied with the benefits or costs that come along with original Medicare, you do have options. A Medicare Advantage plan is a private health insurance plan authorized by the federal government for men and women who qualify for original Medicare. Medicare Part C plans include all of the benefits of original Medicare and may also include additional services or cost-saving benefits. Understanding how Medicare Part C works and how it differs from original Medicare can help you make a more informed decision about your health.
The Best Medicare Advantage Plans
- Best for Easy Access to Benefits and Member Support: Aetna
- Best for Medicare Advantage Plans: Humana
- Best for Easy Access to Benefits: Cigna
- Best for Wide Network of Doctors, Hospitals and Specialists Across the U.S.: Blue Cross Blue Sheild
- Best for Retired Seniors Older Than 50: UnitedHealthcare through AARP
Do you think that a Medicare Advantage plan might be right for you? Let’s take a look at some of the best Advantage plans currently on the market.
1. Best for Easy Access to Benefits and Member Support: Aetna
If you’re hesitant about signing onto a health maintenance organization (HMO) plan because you’re afraid of accidentally going out of network, consider a plan from Aetna. Aetna offers medical concierge services that can help you find local resources and understand your coverage. All of Aetna’s plans come with a $0 medical deductible and there is a $0 premium option for both HMO and preferred provider organization (PPO) plans.
Aetna Medicare Advantage plans have some of the widest ranges of coverage available. Aetna offers both HMO and PPO plans. If you have a doctor or specialist that you want to stay with, you can save money by choosing a more flexible plan.
Aetna offers a limited selection of special needs plans in 12 states. Its plan benefits go beyond the services offered by Original Medicare and include local healthy living resources, prescription drug deliveries and SilverSneakers fitness membership programs.
Most plans also include vision and dental coverage options. With wide availability and 24/7 on-call nursing services, Aetna is one of the best Medicare Advantage providers for individualized plan solutions.
- The plans can be bundled if you want your dental and vision coverage all under the same umbrella
- Aetna offers both an HMO and a PPO plan
- There are also special needs plans available in a dozen states
- Aetna has several other platforms which it owns, which might confuse coverage options at certain providers
2. Best for Medicare Advantage Plans: Humana
If you’re searching for a simple plan that offers multiple benefits rolled into a single plan, consider a Medicare Part C plan from Humana (NYSE: HUM). Humana’s HumanaChoice plan includes a wealth of benefits not covered by parts A and B, including prescription drugs, hearing services, dental care and more. You’ll even receive an allowance for over-the-counter drugs.
- Humana offers extra services for things like dental, vision and even hearing services
- There are allowances for OTC medications
- The bundled plan is much easier for seniors to manage
- Humana may not have a network as robust as other carriers
3. Best for Easy Access to Benefits: Cigna
Cigna (NYSE: CI) offers affordable Medicare Part C insurance that almost anyone can fit into their budget. Most plans include $0 premiums and select add-ons like fitness plans and health coaching are also free of charge. Your plan will likely also include a $0 deductible, which means you can begin using your benefits immediately.
Some individuals have special health conditions or care needs that require more intensive treatments, personalized care treatments or more individual specialist attention. These services may be limited under some Medicare Advantage plans. Cigna offers personalized plans that offer an increased range of services depending on your individual health needs. Special needs plans include access to a wider range of specialists, regular health assessments outside of annual physicals and care transition assistance.
Cigna is one of the country’s top choices for those living with a special medical condition, with a worldwide network of over 86 million members.
- Cigna’s network is so large that it’s difficult to find blank spots across the country
- There are $0 premium and deductible options
- No waiting periods are helpful for seniors who often need immediate care
- Not all plans come with a $0 deductible
4. Best for a Wide Network of Doctors, Hospitals and Specialists Across the U.S.: Blue Cross Blue Shield
One of the largest concerns that Advantage plan holders have is its coverage network. Consider a plan that offers a wider network to ensure that you can get comprehensive care no matter where you are.
BCBS offers Advantage plan holders as one of the widest networks of accepted doctors and specialists. You can find BCBSfacilities in most states. Highmark even offers special health plans for those living on a Native American reserve or other protected land area — a service not offered by most other Medicare Advantage providers.
BCBS also offers a number of healthy living incentives, including a unique “Passport Rewards” program that gives you financial incentives to stay up to date with preventive care treatments and services.
- There are Highmark facilities even on native reservations and other protected lands
- Healthy living is a major focus of the platform
- The plan is designed to offer comprehensive care
- While the Blue Cross Blue Shield network is large, there could be some gaps where providers are concerned
5. Best for Retired Seniors Older Than 50: UnitedHealthcare through AARP
AARP members can access a range of plan options from UnitedHealthcare. All of UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Part C plans include $0 copays when you see your primary care physician, and most plans also include a $0 deductible. You may also be able to claim a free gym membership through UnitedHealthcare’s Renew Active program.
When it comes to choosing the best Medicare supplement plan, it's crucial to find a reliable and financially stable insurance company that offers comprehensive coverage, exceptional customer service, and competitive pricing. With so many options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to make the right choice.
- You can get low or $0 copays on many services
- There are free gym membership options for some account holders
- United has a massive network that helps you find providers more easily
- If you’re not an AARP member, you cannot access these plans
Understanding Medicare Advantage Plans
Before delving into the top insurance companies, let's take a moment to understand what Medicare Advantage plans are and how they work. Medicare Advantage plans, also known as Part C plans, are designed to offer coverage for Parts A & B, including optional extras that comes from the carrier. These plans are offered by private insurance companies, providing additional benefits such as coverage for deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance. There are also differing rules and out-of-pocket costs which you must consider with each carrier.
Key Factors to Consider
When searching for the best Medicare Advantage plan, it's important to keep several key factors in mind. By considering these factors, you can ensure that you find a plan that fits your specific healthcare needs and budget. Here are the main factors to consider.
- Coverage Options: Different insurance companies offer various Advantage plans. You want to know:
- Coverage rules, referral requirements, etc.
- Is your current physician in the network?
- Out-of-pocket costs you must cover
- Part D Coverage that’s offered
- Are vision, hearing, dental, wellness and other offerings available?
- Price: While coverage is crucial, it's equally important to find a plan that fits your budget. Insurance companies have different pricing structures that may vary depend on factors such as your age, gender, location and health status, so compare premiums and determine if the benefits offered justify the cost.
- Financial Stability and Reputation: Opting for a reputable insurance company with a strong financial standing is essential. Research the company's reputation, customer reviews, and financial ratings to ensure you're choosing a reliable provider.
How to Choose the Best Medicare Advantage Plan
Now that you have an overview of some of the top Medicare Advantage insurance companies, it's time to narrow down your options and choose the best plan. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you in the decision-making process:
- Assess Your Healthcare Needs: Determine the coverage you require based on your current healthcare needs and any potential future needs.
- Compare Plans: Request quotes and compare the coverage, benefits, and costs of different Medicare Advantage plans offered by various insurance companies.
- Research Customer Reviews: Read customer reviews and ratings of the insurance companies to gauge their reputation for customer satisfaction and claims processing.
- Check Financial Ratings: Verify the financial stability of insurance companies by checking their ratings from reputable agencies.
- Seek Professional Advice: Consider consulting with an independent insurance agent or a Medicare advisor who can provide unbiased guidance and help you make an informed decision.
Choosing the best Medicare Advantage plan is a critical decision that can significantly impact your healthcare coverage and financial well-being. By considering factors such as coverage options, price, and the reputation of insurance companies, you can find a plan that meets your specific needs. Don't hesitate to compare quotes, read reviews, and seek professional advice to ensure you make the right choice and secure the best Medicare Advantage plan for your future.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of Medicare Advantage?
The benefits of medicare advantage include low premiums and good coverage for prescription drugs, hearing and dental care.
What are the drawbacks of Medicare Advantage?
The drawbacks of medicare advantage include no nationwide coverage, it uses HMOs and is challenging to compare with other plans.
What are the best Medicare plans?
Because Medicare Advantage coverage is highly variable from state to state, the best medicare plan for you will vary depending on where you live.
How much is a typical Medicare Advantage plan?
You can expect to pay between $17 and $73 per month for your Medicare Part C coverage depending on where you live. However, many Medicare Advantage plans also offer $0 premiums, requiring you to pay only when you receive care.