Medicare vs Medicare Advantage: What’s the Difference?
For many seniors over the age of 65, Medicare provides the health coverage needed to ensure regular access to the medical professionals and treatment needed. People who collect Social Security benefits are usually automatically enrolled unless they choose to opt-out and take the appropriate steps. Seniors who choose to take advantage of the coverage provided can choose to sign up for a traditional Medicare plan, run by the government, or a Medicare Advantage plan offered through a private health insurance company. While both plans are subject to government regulations and share many similarities, there are a few different differences that may affect the best option for your situation. This guide describes the benefits of both plans, how to find out if free medicare advantage is right for you, and how to navigate the Medicare Advantage enrollment process.
Pros and Cons of Medicare
One of Medicare’s greatest benefits is the assurance of health care coverage for seniors who fail to provide private health insurance. As health concerns become more important, aging seniors will receive services that help prevent future conditions and can get the medical care they need, free of charge or by paying a reduced premium for coverage. There are a variety of options available for tailoring coverage, such as help at prescription costs, and ensuring seniors have medications and medical care that promote optimal health and higher quality. Seniors also gain the freedom to treatment from the many doctors and specialists who are paid by Medicare.
While traditional health insurance plans have dramatically increased the number of seniors covered by health care, some areas still need improvement. As the beneficiaries age or their healthcare needs become more complex, the out-of-pocket costs in Medicare treatments increase. For example, hospital stays can still be very expensive for seniors on Medicare and may be more frequent at a later stage. It is important to note that there are several gaps in the program’s coverage that may require seniors to enroll in a supplemental program. Prescription coverage is just an example and requires an additional premium to sign up.
The Pros and Cons of free Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantsment offers alternatives if the original Medicare plan does not apply to your situation. Free medicare advantage plans are offered through private insurance companies but are subject to all government regulations as traditional health insurance. This means that a Medicare Advantage plan is similar to an insurance plan offered through an employer and provides a lobby for your port backup medical expenses. Many also include coverage for services that traditional health insurance (such as Vision and Dental) does not provide and will cover the cost of prescriptions without enrolling in a supplemental plan.
When is Medicare Advantage better than traditional health insurance?
Although Medicare Advantage has some limitations, it is a better option than Original Medicare in some cases. If seniors anticipate prescription costs that are too high, or have needs beyond what Medicare Plans A and B can provide, such as vision or dental work, they can include those costs in Medicare Advantage, a monthly premium lower. Restrictions on out-of-pocket medical bills can also save seniors money if they have complex medical conditions that require multiple appointments and treatments throughout the year. Since many free medicare advantage plans require the identification of a primary care provider, this can also be beneficial for people with complex health issues by creating a single physician to help coordinate the efforts of multiple specialists.
Enroll in Medicare Advantage
Seniors enrolled in A and B Medicare are eligible to choose a Medicare Advantage plan during one of the enrollment periods offered. The Initial Enrollment Period (IEP) includes your 65th birth month and three months before and after, adding a total of seven months. If you decline Part B coverage during this period, you only qualify for Medicare Advantage, but after the Part B election, you can enroll during the initial coverage election. There is also an annual admissions period call the Fall Open Admission. This period, which lasts from October 15 to December 7 each year, allows seniors the opportunity to switch between programs or make program changes.
When you’re ready to sign up, you must choose a provider that covers the area where you live. You can purchase free medicare advantage Providers online through the government’s Medicare website or you can always call a representative at 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227). The site allows you to compare several plans you offer so you can make the best choice for your situation.
Once you’ve made your decision, you have several registration options:
- You can sign up directly with the insurance provider of your choice, either online or by phone.
- You can sign up from the Medicare.gov website or contact a customer service representative through the numbers above.
- You can choose a third-party independent health insurance agency to help you choose and enroll in a free medicare advantage plan.
When you sign up, you will need your current Medicare number and the start date of your Part A and B coverage. Much of the application process has been completed by obtaining traditional Medicare benefits. Because you can choose to apply through several private insurance companies, the application process may vary between insurance companies.