Why should you compare Medicare Advantage Plans for 2018? Why can you not just go with the first one that looks appealing? Well, if you look closely at the various Advantage plans there, you will see that there are some big differences that can make one far more desirable than other.
If you don’t bother to compare the plans, then you could end up with insufficient coverage. You may be expecting to be covered for certain medical expenses and then be surprised when you are not. You could also find that when you go to your local doctor or hospital for medical care that your plan doesn’t cover you there. That will come as a shock to many people, especially those who are used to being covered by their basic Medicare plan wherever they go, but Advantage plans work a bit differently.
The Advantage Plan and Networks
Let’s look at how networks work for Advantage plans. If you have Medicare’s Original plan already, then you are probably used to being able to get coverage with that plan anywhere that Medicare is accepted. That tends to be most places, but Advantage plans operate on a different setup.
There are two primary network types for Advantage plans. These are HMO and PPO. You may have heard these terms before, and they determine how you receive your coverage.
The most common one is the HMO, and nearly every insurance provider that offers Medicare Advantage plans will give you the HMO option. With this type of plan, you can only receive coverage at approved facilities. It’s a cheaper plan than most, so that limited coverage has a positive side to it.
The network is made up of whoever the insurance company has an agreement with to reimburse them for services provided to their subscribers. That can be doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and any other healthcare facility. Not every healthcare facility will be covered by any insurance company, so you should pay attention to each company’s network before you sign up for one of their Advantage plans. You don’t want to end up not getting coverage in your local area just because there is nothing on your provider’s network nearby.
A PPO will provide you with additional coverage, but you will have to pay more for it than you would for an HMO. You get the same coverage on your plan, but you get it in more locations. So, if you decide to go somewhere for medical treatment that isn’t on your provider’s network, then you can still get some coverage, but it won’t be for the full coverage offered by your Advantage plan. Off-network healthcare facilities only give you partial coverage while on a PPO network plan.
You should know that there isn’t a set price for Advantage plans. Medicare is not regulating premiums on these plans, even though it does regulate some coverage. So, when you compare Medicare Advantage Plans for 2018, keep in mind that there will be different prices. Sometimes, those prices reflect the amount of coverage offered. Other times, they reflect the kind of competition in local areas and the cost of living more than what they offer. You will find different prices all over the country and from different providers for what is essentially the same plan.
Of course, the various Advantage plans that insurance companies sell to you won’t all have the same coverage. Keep that in mind as you look at differently-priced plans. They could be different prices because one is offering you less coverage than another. You won’t know that for sure, though, unless you take a close look at them.
You can use price comparison sites to save yourself some effort in finding and comparing quotes. They will do the work so you don’t have to and provide you with accurate and diverse quotes that can help you make an informed decision as to who has the best price on Advantage plans. Just make sure to pay attention to the coverage on each of the plans.
There is no more important factor in comparing Medicare Advantage plans than the coverage. If a plan doesn’t cover you like you need to be covered, then it isn’t doing you much good, no matter how cheap it may be. The right insurance plan will have coverage that meets your needs and that leaves you little to pay out of your own pockets. You should be covered for all the essentials with the right plan, and if your coverage plan cannot do that, then you need to find a different one or get additional coverage.
Of course, you can’t buy more coverage to go along with most Advantage plans. If you already have coverage for Part D included, then you won’t be able to buy that separately. You also cannot buy any supplemental plan to go with your Advantage plan, so keep that in mind and don’t expect to make up for low coverage with one of the Medigap plans.
Comparing coverage takes a lot of work, and there isn’t a quick and easy way to do it. You must examine each plan in turn and then compare what they offer to what you need. That means you will have to examine your own health status and your budget to figure out what you can afford and what you need to be covered for.
The payoff can be considerable, though. Comparing each aspect of Advantage plans gives you the information you need to make the best decision. You won’t be buying a plan blindly, and you will have a good idea how well it will work for you in the coming months and years.
Before you agree to any Advantage plan, give yourself some time to research them. Compare Medicare Advantage Plans for 2018 and see which one has just what you need at a price you can afford to pay.
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