Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are an alternative to traditional Medicare coverage that offers several benefits and advantages over the original Medicare. While both types of coverage are government-sponsored health insurance programs for individuals aged 65 and older, they have significant differences.
Over the past few years, Medicare Advantage enrollment has steadily increased, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). In 2021, approximately 26.9 million Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan, representing 42% of all Medicare beneficiaries.
Why are the plans becoming so popular?
One reason for this increase in enrollment is that Medicare Advantage plans have become more widely available and offer more comprehensive coverage than they did in the past. In addition, many Medicare Advantage plans offer extra benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs than traditional Medicare, which can be attractive to seniors who want to save on healthcare expenses.
A Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that extra benefits are one of the top reasons people choose Medicare Advantage over traditional Medicare. In the survey, 91% of Medicare Advantage enrollees reported being satisfied with their coverage, compared to 80% of traditional Medicare beneficiaries. This suggests that Medicare Advantage plans are meeting the needs and expectations of many seniors.
Overall, the growing popularity of Medicare Advantage plans suggests that more and more people are choosing this type of coverage because of its benefits and advantages.
Here is why Medicare Advantage may be a better option for seniors than traditional Medicare.
#1 More comprehensive coverage
Medicare Advantage plans to offer more comprehensive coverage than traditional Medicare. In addition to the benefits provided by Parts A and B (hospital and medical insurance), MA plans often include prescription drug coverage, dental, vision, and hearing benefits, as well as other services such as wellness programs, gym memberships, and transportation to medical appointments. These additional benefits can save seniors significant money on out-of-pocket costs and provide them with more comprehensive coverage.
#2 Lower out-of-pocket costs
In comparison to traditional Medicare, Medicare Advantage plans often have lower out-of-pocket costs. While both types of coverage have deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments, MA plans often have an annual out-of-pocket maximum, limiting the amount a person spends on healthcare costs in a given year. Once this maximum is reached, the plan pays for all covered services for the remainder of the year. Traditional Medicare does not have an out-of-pocket maximum, so seniors can face high costs if they require medical care.
#3 Coordinated care
One of the biggest advantages of Medicare Advantage is that it provides coordinated care. MA plans often have a network of healthcare providers who work together to care for their patients. This means doctors, specialists, and other healthcare professionals communicate and collaborate to ensure patients receive the best care. In contrast, traditional Medicare allows seniors to see any healthcare provider who accepts Medicare, but there is no coordination of care between providers.
#4 Predictable costs
Medicare Advantage plans offer predictable costs, which can be helpful for seniors on a fixed income. Most MA plans have monthly premiums, typically lower than those for supplemental insurance policies that seniors may need with traditional Medicare. In addition, the predictable costs associated with MA plans can make it easier for seniors to budget for their healthcare expenses.
Medicare Advantage plans offer more flexibility than traditional Medicare. Most MA plans offer various plan options, including HMOs, PPOs, and other types of plans, allowing seniors to choose a plan that best meets their needs. In addition, many MA plans enable seniors to switch plans during certain times of the year, which can be helpful if their healthcare needs change.
#6 Extra benefits
Finally, Medicare Advantage plans often offer extra benefits that traditional Medicare does not cover. These benefits include transportation to medical appointments, fitness programs, and other wellness services. In addition, some MA plans offer coverage for services like acupuncture, chiropractic care, and home health services, which traditional Medicare does not cover.
In conclusion, while traditional Medicare provides essential healthcare coverage to seniors, Medicare Advantage plans offer several advantages that make them a better option for many people. From more comprehensive coverage to lower out-of-pocket costs, coordinated care, predictable costs, flexibility, and extra benefits, Medicare Advantage plans can provide seniors with the coverage and care they need to stay healthy and independent in their golden years.