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How Does Medicare Advantage Work?

Irish-handsMedicare can be daunting to many people, and once you’ve made a decision (or a mistake), you have to live with it for a year, until the next Medicare open enrollment season. Depending on where you live, there may be different Medicare Advantage options to sort through.

For starters, Medicare Advantage is also known as Medicare Part C. It’s a private insurance alternative to original Medicare. In 2020, the monthly premiums for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are expected to actually decrease to an estimated $23. That’s a 14% decrease, which seems like a lot but is actually only an average of $3.87.

AARP’s recent article, “Medicare Advantage Premiums to Decrease in 2020,” explains that these plans include Medicare Part A. That covers hospital care, hospice, and some nursing home and rehabilitative services. These plans also include Part B, which helps pay for physician visits and other outpatient services, including lab testing, scans and other diagnostic services. Most Medicare Advantage plans also include prescription drug coverage.

The recently announced premiums represent a nationwide average. Actual monthly charges for Medicare Advantage plans will vary, depending on what the plan covers and where beneficiaries reside. CMS announced that premiums for Part D prescription drug coverage were also trending down by about 13.5% to a projected $30 a month.

Many Medicare Advantage plans also cover some dental, vision, and hearing care. Over the past two years, CMS has also added other benefits that will hopefully improve the health of seniors. These services include in-home meals, transportation, adult day care services, and improvements to beneficiaries’ homes. That may look like wheelchair ramps and shower grips. However, not all Medicare Advantage plans have these extra benefits.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services projects that about 250 plans in 2020 will offer access to these supplemental services, impacting about 1.2 million enrollees.

Enrollment in MA plans has been steadily climbing. The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services projects that more than 24 million people will be in a Medicare Advantage plan in 2020.

There has been a big increase in the number of Medicare Advantage plans being sold in 2020, compared to 2019: 1,200 more Medicare Advantage plans will be available in 2020.

Reference: AARP (September 24, 2019) “Medicare Advantage Premiums to Decrease in 2020”