What Else Do I Need to Know About a Medicare Advantage Plan?

It’s important that you understand the differences between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans. Some things to remember about advantage plans are:

•    You must follow the rules! For example, if you are in an advantage plan HMO, you must choose a PCP and only use network services.
•    You can join an advantage plan even if you have one or more pre-existing conditions. There is no waiting period.
•    If your advantage plan decides to no longer participate in Medicare, you can join another plan or return to Original Medicare.
•    If your advantage plan does not include prescription drug coverage, you can join a Medicare Part D plan in your state. However, according to Medicare: “If you are in a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes prescription drug coverage and you join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan, you will be disenrolled from your Medicare Advantage Plan and returned to Original Medicare.”
•    As long as you are enrolled in a Medicare advantage Plan, you do not need to buy a Medicare Supplement Insurance policy (Medigap). In fact, it is illegal for anyone to sell you a Medigap policy if you are in an advantage plan. The benefits offered by a Medigap policy are covered by your advantage plan and the supplement does not pay for your plan’s deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance.

Medicare Advantage Plans and Health Reform

Medicare Advantage plans cost the federal government more than traditional Medicare. Beginning in 2012, Medicare will start to decrease the subsidies to these plans.
If you are enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, you may have to pay a higher premium or deal with reduced benefits. However, these plans cannot reduce any of the benefits that you would normally receive from traditional Medicare.