You’ve got options for health insurance as you get older that go beyond Original Medicare. As a reminder, Original Medicare, which is also called traditional Medicare, is made up of two parts: Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance).
These two parts cover a lot of care, but they don’t cover everything. Notably missing is coverage for things like prescription drugs, dental and vision, and hearing aids and exams, among other services.
You can supplement Original with a Medigap policy (for picking up out-of-pocket costs, not covering added benefits), buy a Part D plan for prescription drugs or enroll in Medicare Advantage as an alternative.
Medicare Advantage is the private portion of Medicare, covering everything that Original does (by law) plus additional benefits that vary by plan.
Since these plans are sold by private companies, coverage varies widely. Where you live determines your plan options.
But many Advantage plans cover the benefits that Original doesn’t — prescription drugs, for instance — along with added coverage for things like gym memberships, telemedicine, meal delivery services, nutrition counseling and more.
You might assume that Medicare Advantage costs more because it covers more. In short, it depends.
Some Advantage plans do charge a premium, but these premiums tend to be low. Again, cost is tied with your zip code and the carrier selling the benefits.
But some Advantage plans don’t charge a premium. You can get all the benefits of Original, plus the added benefits offered by a private plan, without any extra money per month.
That’s because Advantage is still partly funded by the federal government even though it’s the private portion of Medicare. Essentially, insurers get paid to offer these plans, and it’s good business for them.
As a consumer, that means you benefit from a program that’s still regulated by the federal government but with private market innovation. Advantage plans have more leeway in creating health insurance packages that meet the needs of today’s seniors.
Recent regulations as of 2019 are also contributing to a more creative approach in senior benefits.
We want to reiterate that where you live makes a difference in the kinds of Medicare Advantage plans you can buy. Different carriers offer different plans throughout the country.
When you’re shopping for health insurance, make sure to use your actual zip code. Plan availability and pricing will be more accurate.
Below, you’ll find links to each state and a bit of information about Medicare Advantage in each one.
We’ve used data primarily from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (report here), which administers Medicare, and the Kaiser Family Foundation (report here), a nonprofit that analyzes healthcare data in the U.S., for our summaries on enrollment and costs.
Find your state, click the link and learn more about Medicare Advantage in 2021 for where you live.
And if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask. We know how daunting it can be to find information and pick a health plan. Our Medicare experts are standing by to make the process less stressful.