Medicare Advantage is a private insurance plan alternative to purchasing a traditional Original Medicare plan that can still keep you covered for all the most important things. Medicare Advantage is also known as Medicare Part C.

Medicare Advantage plans are required to cover everything included in Medicare Parts A and B. Most Medicare Advantage plans also cover the components of Medicare Part D, or prescription drug coverage. Like Original Medicare plans, they come at different costs and different levels of coverage depending on the specifics of the plan you choose.

What is the cost of Medicare Advantage?

The premium and copayment costs and extent of coverage can be different depending on which Medicare Advantage plan you buy into. To find one that best fits your needs, look into your local Medicare Advantage options. You may want to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan if you find one that could save you money, for example, or switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan that provides better coverage for you.

Most Medicare Advantage plans are similar to the types of health insurance plans available to people for purchase prior to qualifying for Medicare plans. In general, Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) will offer cost savings while Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) will offer flexibility, but it’s important to research individual plans in your area to find the best rates and coverage.

What is the difference between Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare?

Medicare Advantage plans will tend to have a fixed network of providers that are considered in-network vs. out-of-network. Original Medicare is accepted by the vast majority of health service providers in the U.S., whereas with Medicare Advantage plans there will be specific contracts with providers, so while there may be cost savings there is in some cases less flexibility as far as your doctor network. 

When purchasing a Medicare Advantage plan it’s important to look at the options in your area in terms of both cost and coverage to make sure you’re getting the right deal to meet your needs. Some Medicare Advantage plans are PPOs, so they will offer out-of-network coverage as well.

Can I switch Medicare Advantage plans?

Yes, generally you can switch between Medicare Advantage plans during the Open Enrollment Period every year if you qualify for Medicare. You can also switch between Medicare Advantage plans and Original Medicare or Medicare Supplement Insurance plans, so shopping around for coverage that meets your needs is a great option if you want a better health plan.

If you are part of a Medicare Advantage plan and it either ends or you decide not to be covered by it anymore, you will generally be switched to a standard Original Medicare plan.

Why would I want to change Medicare Advantage plans?

There are a variety of factors that go into deciding which plan is best for you—for example, some plans offer more coverage for specific types of care, or list a specific prescription drug you need. There are also different payment plans for different tiers of coverage in all types of Medicare plans, so choosing the one that strikes a balance between cost savings and coverage is something that sometimes needs to be updated.