2020 brings more private insurance plans.
Private insurers are increasing their plan offerings for Medicare Advantage. Here’s why you need to look closely.
Journalist Philip Moeller the author of the book, “Get What’s Yours for Medicare,” and co-author of “Get What’s Yours: The Revised Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security.” recently wrote an article discussing how private insurers are increasing their plan offerings for Medicare Advantage (MA) in 2020.
- There are 3,150 MA plans available, up 15% from 2019.
- 37% of Americans with Medicare now have MA plans.
In this article Phil also answers questions about MA plans, something he has long advised people to take a careful look at. MA plans cover important benefits that basic Medicare does not, such as fitness club benefits, dental, hearing and vision. “Stinting on such care can harm a person’s health as they get older,” says Phil.
A recent report from eHealth, based on the experiences of 45,000 users of its site, found that people with MA Part D plans could have saved around $1,150 had they enrolled in the drug plan best suited to their needs. The savings in stand-alone Part D plans, generally used by those on basic Medicare, were $800. Fewer than 10% of people using the eHealth tools were enrolled in the optimal plan when they visited the company’s site, eHealth said.
Medicare rules also permit MA plans to offer “supplemental benefits”. A supplemental benefit is non-medical coverage to help people maintain or improve their well being. Examples include transportation to medical appointments and home-delivered meals to patients recently released from hospitals.
Below is the percentage of MA plans that will be offering specific supplemental benefits in 2020, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Do Your Homework
Phil cautions that even if a plan offers a supplemental benefit, it may not be available in your geographic area. In addition, Medicare rules permit private insurers to offer supplemental benefits only to people with chronic conditions and other special needs.
If a Medicare Advantage plan has a benefit that is appealing to you, it is strongly advised to call the carrier or your agent to find out if you are eligible, before enrolling.
Most MA plans still require you pay the Part B monthly premium, however, they do not charge additional premiums for drug coverage. The downside is these less expensive plans often charge higher co-pays than higher-premium plans.
Another potential downside, Medicare Advantage plans require people to use doctors, hospitals and other care providers that are in a plan’s provider network and may charge sharply higher rates for out-of-network care or even deny coverage entirely. It’s important to work with your current care providers to make sure they are in the provider network of any MA plan you are considering.
The article explains that because of these complexities it is important to use Medicare’s online Plan Finder to carefully evaluate total projected out-of-pocket costs for plans that interest you. Medicare recently made major changes to this tool and some insurance brokers and Medicare counselors have criticized the new Plan Finder as being harder to use and less helpful in comparing plans.
Got Medicare Questions?
Empower Brokerage can also help with your Medicare questions. Get an instant quote or call and speak with a licensed agent about finding the right Medicare Advantage plan in your area. 1-888-446-9157