Is a Medicare Advantage Plan the Right Choice in 2012?

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Advisors weigh in on the options Medicare recipients have this year.

There have been some changes in the Medicare market this year, but most advisors seem to agree that if a Medicare recipient fulfills 3 basic criteria then Medicare Advantage plans will most likely be the right plans for them. This Medicare Advantage profile was gleaned from an interview with several insurance professionals at MedicareAdvantageToday.com that were asked to describe how they determine what Medicare plan is right for their prospects.

All of the interviewed insurance agents agreed that the first qualifier of a Medicare Advantage plan’s prospect is price. A seasoned Medicare advisor said “Basically, Medicare recipients have the option of choosing Medicare Advantage plans or a Medicare Supplement. Both plans are administered by an insurance company but a Medicare Supplement fills in the gaps for services not covered by Original Medicare and a Medicare Advantage plan replaces Original Medicare with a better plan. Many of the MA plans have no monthly premium and include prescription drugs while Medicare Supplement costs will start around $150 per month and up depending on age and sometimes underwriting, and you must buy a standalone Rx plan starting at $35 per month.” The monthly premium, though, is not the only thing to look at when considering price, as you will discover.

The health of the prospect is the next critical step in determining whether or not Medicare Advantage plans is the right direction to go. If the recipient is not healthy and will expect to make frequent trips to the hospital or specialist, or will require frequent testing, they should consider a Medicare Supplement. In a typical MA plan a co-pay is charged for most services rendered , while a Medicare Supplement Plan F has very few out of pocket costs outside of the monthly plan premium. A large usage of services on a MA plan could potentially cost as much or more than you would have paid if you had a Medicare Supplement. Also note, that Medicare Advantage plans generally have a maximum out of pocket cost (for example $3500).

Finally, choosing Medicare Advantage plans or a Medicare Supplement plan may simply be a matter of choice. “When working with one of my clients I ask them this”, explained Gary of Medicare Advantage Today, “Is it important to you to have the ability to go to any hospital or doctor you want for any procedure, or would it be acceptable to you to pay significantly less on your health care and have a large network to choose your hospital and doctor from?”.

A Medicare Supplement, for the most part, gives you the freedom to use any hospital or doctor you wish which is attractive to many recipients. Most Medicare Advantage plans require you to receive services from an in- network provider and may require a referral from your Primary Care Physician before you may see an in -network specialist.
Medicare recipients should consider price, their personal health situation, family history, and how wide of a selection of hospitals and doctors they would like before choosing whether a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement would be the best choice for them.

One of the major changes in the Medicare Advantage plans this year is the period of time in which you can apply. Last year it was Nov. 15 through March 31. This year the Annual Enrollment period is from October 15, 2011 thru December 7, 2011.

Medicareadvantagetoday.com was founded in 2011 to provide Medicare recipients with the current information they need to make an informed decision when choosing a Medicare Advantage Plan or Medicare Supplement. The site offers a range of articles, research materials and licensed Medicare advisors that are available with a phone call.

If you'd like more information about this topic, or to schedule an appointed with a Medicare insurance professional, please call 1.800.350.5358 or fill out the form at MedicareAdvantageToday.

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Gary Gasparyan
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