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4 Things to Look For in a Medicare Advantage Plan This Year

By Maurie Backman - Oct 17, 2021 at 5:18AM

Key Points

  • Seniors can choose between original Medicare and Medicare Advantage for health coverage.
  • Advantage plans offer numerous benefits that original Medicare does not.
  • It's important to choose an Advantage plan wisely for optimal coverage and maximum savings.

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Open enrollment is upon us. Here are some key tips for choosing a Medicare Advantage plan.

Medicare's fall open enrollment period has officially begun, and that means millions of seniors have an opportunity to make changes to their coverage. One change you may want to make relates to Medicare Advantage.

If you're on original Medicare, you may want to consider switching over to an Advantage plan instead. And if you're already enrolled in an Advantage plan, well, there may be a better one for you.

It's important to research different Advantage plans and make the right call as far as your coverage goes for 2022. Here are a few important things to look for in a Medicare Advantage plan.

Two people at table with laptop, documents, and calculator

Image source: Getty Images.

1. Low premium costs

Medicare Advantage premiums aren't all the same, and some plans charge less than others for coverage. There are even $0 premium plans available in some areas. If you're on a tight budget -- say, you mostly live on Social Security -- then it's important to keep your premium costs as low as possible without skimping on coverage.

2. A reasonable choice of convenient providers

One drawback of enrolling in a Medicare Advantage plan is that you'll be limited to a more narrow network of healthcare providers (whereas if you stick with original Medicare, you can see a doctor pretty much anywhere in the country). It's important to make sure that the plan you're looking at offers a decent number of providers within a reasonable distance of your home. The last thing you want is for travel constraints to prevent you from getting the care you need.

3. Coverage for the medications you take

Seniors who enroll in original Medicare get a separate Part D plan that covers their prescription needs. When you sign up for Medicare Advantage, your plan serves as your one-stop shop for all of your healthcare needs, including medications. As such, it's important to find a plan that covers the specific medications you're on.

4. Supplemental benefits

Some Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits on top of the standard coverage you'd expect from Medicare. It pays to explore your options in this regard, as some Advantage plans cover everything from meal services to carpet cleanings if there's a medical need (like diabetes or asthma) to have those services performed.

Explore your options now

Choosing the right Medicare Advantage plan is essential, so it's important not to rush through the process. Medicare's open enrollment is already in full swing and runs through early December, but don't wait too long to start researching plans. Instead, start reviewing your coverage choices this month so that if questions arise, you have plenty of time to get them addressed.

That said, one good thing about Medicare Advantage is that it has its own special enrollment period that runs from January through March each year. If sign up for a plan this fall that doesn't end up working well for you, you'll have the option to switch plans in early 2022. You'll even have the option to drop Advantage completely and move over to original Medicare if that's the route you choose you take.

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